Coach Matthew Smiling can be seen on the hardwood at the Belize City Center with a group of young basketball hopefuls running drills, calling plays and shooting nothing but net
The under-fifteen (U-15) team had previous success, winning silver inQuetzaltenango, Guatemala at the Central American tournament this February. Belize played a huge game, winning Guatemala 51 – 31. This July 25th through 31st, Belize’s U-15 squad will again travel to Guatemala, but this time for the Central American Basketball Confederation (COCABA) games, competing with Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvadorand Mexico. This competition is the same Belize’s senior national team dominated in 2009 at Cancun.
The boys have come to deserve the support of Belizeans, not just that of the coach, parents and other sport fanatics. These boys, most being fromBelize City and a few out-districts, have been vigorously training for the last two months. These players have been juggling practice and school’s curriculum with all intention to continue the trend of Belizean victory. A sacrifice they say, is more of a privilege.
The Belize Basketball Federation (BBF) is taking care of expenses, holding true to its and the Government of Belize’s promise to create a supportive sport environment.
In recent weeks at a press conference regarding the senior national Centrobasket preparations, Minister of Sports Hon. John Saldivar was noted as saying that the sporting community has the full support of the government. Saldivar also pledged the participation of the government to integrate and develop sports for the promising and often undermined younger generation.
Smiling however, doesn’t undermine his young ballers, he says he heads toGuatemala with confidence in his smart, physical and fast team. After getting a taste of the regional competition earlier this year Smiling has taken his team to the drawing board and come back with a suite of guys fit for the big “W”.
Hearing the boys speak of their team as a brotherhood and as a medium of “staying out of trouble,” reiterates the objective of Coach Smiling and Basketball in Belize. Those on the team not only see the squad as a chance to build strong relationships, but also as an opportunity to advance their sporting career. Many of the boys share the hope of playing on the Senior National Team. This upcoming tournament gives them a tease of what that may be like; the boys’ new found physique and competitive ability doesn’t hurt.
Coach and team leave for Guatemala Sunday, July 25th , twelve-strong from the 20 boys that put their heart on the hardwood for a chance to represent their country.
Story by Kimberly Timmons