Women's basketball a big deal at KFC Star Search Camp


Women's basketball a big deal at KFC Star Search Camp

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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The KFC Star Search Basketball and Life Skills Development Camp 2019 came to a close on Friday with a presentation ceremony at G C Foster College.

Participants were awarded for their week-long hard work and dedication to the sport. Over 20 trophies and various medals were presented in categories, including Most Valuable Player (MVP), Shooting Champion, Three-Point Champion and Free Throw Champion.

In the end, it was 15-year- old Shonicke Mitchell who walked away with the most individual awards, including two team awards.

Mitchell copped the MVP trophy in the female category, the One-on-One Female trophy and the Team Shooting trophy. Her Five-on-Five team and Three-on-Three team also won the female championships.

Mitchell, who made the transition from netball to basketball in high school, celebrated her achievements that came at great personal sacrifice.

“Experiencing muscle cramps, long training sessions, and running long distances has not been the best experience, but receiving all these awards is a great feeling,” said Mitchell. “I have to always put out the effort because I have goals I want to achieve. I hope one day I can get a scholarship, be one of the biggest stars nationally, and earn a spot in the WNBA. I would love to participate in the KFC camp next year,” she added.

Ricalya Swaby, one of two female coaches at the camp and coach of the winning Five-on-Five team, Super Strikers, asserted that more needs to be done locally for women's basketball. Swaby, who was also a camper in 2007, pointed out that “more competitions and sponsorship would encourage more girls and women to play basketball”, allowing the sport to flourish.

Paulton Gordon, president of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JABA), applauded the KFC Star Search Camp for their continuous dedication to the sport, highlighting that there has also been a lot more interest in women's basketball in Jamaica.

Gordon added that he was pleased to see the increase in the number of girls participating in the camp this year. He revealed that there are plans in place by the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) to facilitate growth in women's basketball.

“Typically we have a lopsided camp, in terms of the ratio of boys to girls. We have seen an adjustment in that ratio and we are overjoyed to see more girls participating each year,” said Gordon.

“ISSA will be introducing an Under-14 programme for the girls next year, so we will have a lot more girls playing at a younger age, understanding the basic skills and improving themselves overall,” he added.

Gordon also shared that there are currently 16 girls in China for 60 days, as a part of JABA's development team under the tutelage of Chinese coaches, an exchange programme is aimed at developing the skills of the girls.

Andrei Roper, brand manager for title sponsor KFC, conveyed that his company is committed to the growth and development of basketball in Jamaica and the blossoming of the nation's youth.

“KFC has been the main sponsor for the Star Search Camp for over 15 years, [and] this is a testament to our continued devotion to nurturing these youths who have a passion for the game.

“The participation of the girls has been steadily improving each year and their potential is unlimited. Knowing that the camp is helping to facilitate the growth of women's basketball in Jamaica is motivation for us to continue finding ways to encourage more girls to join the camp and sharpen their skills,” he said.

This year's camp saw 115 participants, including 30 girls, honing their skills over a six-day period under the guidance of international and local coaches. The participants not only trained and played basketball at the camp, but were taught development skills and given the opportunity to be recommended for scholarships locally and internationally.

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