By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER one week of intense instructional training, Terrance ‘Red Eye’ McSweeney said he’s not disappointed at all that he has had to halt his Diamond Basketball Development Programme.
The camp, held in memory of the late, versatile athlete Jonique ‘Mini’ Webb and coach Sherman Smith, got underway last week at the Hope Center Church for girls between the ages of eight and 16 from 9am to noon and boys 8-11 from 1-4pm.
But on Sunday, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced that all parks, along with beaches, in New Providence and Grand Bahama, will be closed until further notice as a result of a spike in the coronavirus pandemic.
McSweeney immediately sent out a letter to parents advising them that the camp will be put on hold until further notice, hoping and asking in prayers that it won’t be for any extended period of time.
“I think the decision by the Prime Minister is a good one because lives matter,” McSweeney said. “The precautionary measures he took to shut down the parks doesn’t affect the overall objective that we are trying to achieve.
“If it is that it probably takes a week or so for the parks to reopen, we will still try to see what we can do to commemorate Jonique ‘Mini’ Smith as well as coach Sherman Smith.”
He admitted that the decision doesn’t throw a monkey wrench into his programme, but McSweeney advised the parents that if the parks remain closed for more than two weeks, then he will have no other choice but to shut down the camp.
“We don’t want to interfere with the opening of school, whenever they do it, but as in the past, by August 15, we normally break training until September to allow the parents to get their children ready for school,” McSweeney said.
“So the decision by the Prime Minister to close the parks was a good one for the nation overall, protecting lives. We were already out of the gate, so I give God thanks if we were only able to stage the one week of the camp.”
While the camp was held from Monday to Friday last week, McSweeney also conducted a free Saturday training session at the facility where he indicated that the numbers increased and some of them were hoping to come out and participate this week.
“Whenever I am able to go back to the court as a coach, I will continue to do what I do, training the girls in particular the basic fundamentals of the game. If not, whenever the parks are reopened, we will resume, if it’s just Saturday workouts.”
Having gotten the camp off the blocks, McSweeney said he’s thankful to God and he will abide by the rules of the Bahamas Government because lives are more at stake.
Webb passed away at the age of 30 on January 19 after a battle with lupus and 53-year-old Smith died on April 22, having been diagnosed earlier with sickle cell that led to complications with COVID-19.
Already, McSweeney is already looking forward to next year when he will take his Diamond Basketball League to Harbour Island and Central Eleuthera during the summer for a primary school camp for girls in grades 4-6.
Marcia Hall, the 10-year-old daughter of sportscaster Marcellus Hall, will be the face of the camp.
Here for this year’s camp, Hall attends the Harbour Island All-Age School where she is coached by Ann Bullard.
“If it is that we have to pull up anchor on this year’s camp, I am planning then to do a 3-on-3 tournament in her honour at some point and to go to Harbour Island and Central Eleuthera,” McSweeney said.
“Those will be held in conjunction with the continuation of our regular Saturday morning training sessions. So we are going to try and stay busy, despite all that is going on with this pandemic. Once we get the clearance, we will provide the opportunities for our young girls to develop their skills in basketball.”