By RENALDO DORSETT
THE premier junior basketball tournament in the country returns next week. After a hiatus for the 2015 edition, the Father Marcian Peters Basketball Classic is all set to host its 31st edition at the Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium December 10-17.
The tournament traditionally features scores of teams from the primary girls and boys, junior girls and boys, intermediate boys and senior girls. The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture’s staff facilitates the event.
According to reports, the Ministry was unable to find the necessary funding to host the tournament in 2015.
The cancellation impacted the student-athletes in a number of ways because many of the Family Island teams also took the opportunity to participate in the annual Junior Junkanoo Parade.
There are a number of pre-season and mid-season tournaments for senior boys. That is one of the reasons why the organisers focus on these particular divisions for the players to compete in.
In the last edition, hosted in 2014, division winners included Freedom Baptist (primary girls), Temple Christian (primary boys), Harbour Island (junior girls), Aquinas College (junior boys), CR Walker (senior girls) and Queen’s College (intermediate boys).
In 2013, Harbour Island All Age School captured three of the six contested divisions – junior boys, intermediate boys and junior girls. Temple Christian won primary boys, The Carlton Francis Shockers won the primary girls’ division and CR Walker won senior girls.
Tournament director in recent years, Scooter Reid, told the Tribune in previous interviews that immediate goals would include expanding the reach to have more girls’ teams.
“It is our intentions next tournament to have more girls play. Even though the games in the divisions for girls are good, we need to have more girls in the tournament. This was originally a girls tournament, so to have a decline in numbers in those divisions is a little disappointing,” he said. “So we would like to tell all the teams or as many as possible, if they want to play they have to bring a girls team.”
With a year of additional planning organisers have had an opportunity to correct several issues which have hindered the tournament in recent years including eligibility violations.
Father Marcian Peters, who passed away in 1981, was known as a national sporting icon for his contributions to basketball and softball as tools of social development. Today the tournament stands as the largest and most popular inter-school basketball event.