Chris Bowman, co-director of Youth Basketball Guyana (YBG), the country’s leading youth development arm, revealed that the first Tertiary Basketball League has been a monumental success, adding that plans are underway for improvement and the evolution of the nascent program.
This was stated during an exclusive interview with Stabroek Sport (SS). The transcript of the interview is presented below in its entirety.
SS: After the success of the first edition of the Tertiary Basketball League, how would YBG describe the entire event?
CB “The Tertiary Basketball League [TBL] was a great success on all levels. We knew that there were a large number of young basketball players between the ages of 18 and 21 within our higher education institutions across Guyana who were not supported after the NSBF. [National Schools Basketball Festival]. Many of these players would have ended their school basketball careers on a high, but lacked a clear path for continued development as serious athletes. There was a huge gap between the school prom and the senior club prom. This not only affected the players but also their fans who had followed them since their playing days in high school. So the TBL was kind of naturally set up to succeed and it did. We are still getting calls from other higher education institutions who have all said they are looking forward to playing the next edition.
“We were particularly pleased with the support from the fans every night. It was something organic, and it made us realize that over the past 15 years, we weren’t just creating the next generation of basketball players, but also basketball fans. Much of TBL’s success was also tied to the quality of the games.
SS: What were some of the factors that prevented YBG from hosting this event years ago?
CB: “The biggest challenge for basketball to progress and grow at the youth level is funding and facilities. So we have to do a lot of prioritization, make the tough decision of what we use for the limited resources we have; and being the only basketball organization to look after youth nationally and year-round, it’s hard to do it all. So we had to “cut our eyes out” as they say about some good things. In fact, we didn’t even have the budget for this first tertiary basketball league, but we saw an opportunity and the time was right. It will definitely be in our budget next year, so teams could expect more rewards and incentives, including increased cash prizes.
SS: How does YBG intend or plan to build on this business and ultimately improve the product, which obviously has a place in youth development?
CB: “Absolutely, the TBL will be among the best sports entertainment products in the next few years. We have lots of ideas on how to do this so we will sit down with the schools involved as they will need to play an important role in realizing the full potential of the league. It will be a partnership between YBG and participating schools.
SS. Does YBG have any plans or goals to run leagues in the other notable categories, with a particular focus on the girls format?
CB “Of course, this same model will be used for women’s basketball. We are currently working on an initiative called “Girls Play” which should be launched this summer. It’s something we’re very excited to do.