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SPORTSBASKETBALLBY ALICIA RESNIK“The benefits of basketball are far reaching. The sport builds self-confidence, leadership, dedication, and teamwork. Do more, be more!”
Tommy Johnson, Treasurer of the Bermuda Basketball Association. Basketball has captured the attention of athletes of all ages since it was invented in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Mr. Tommy Johnson has coached basketball for the past 20 years. He says the sport offers our youth the chance to see that there’s more out there than ‘X-Box and PlayStation’. “Young people today have so much available to them,” he says. “Social media can be good, but it can also be crushing. Being involved in basketball offers an opportunity to focus on something more.”
Mr. Johnson has been the Treasurer of the Bermuda Basketball Association (BBA) for the past 11 years. He knows the sport well – he started playing when he was 5. “Every player has to start somewhere. It’s a fun sport. Kids get to develop their skills and see their own progression and improvement.”
Founded in 1988, the BBA is the governing body for basketball as appointed by the Ministry of Youth & Sport. It’s a volunteer run, charitable organisation (# 450) whose primary objective is to promote, supervise and govern the playing of amateur basketball. The BBA oversees the island’s male and female national teams, domestic leagues, youth leagues, and represents Bermuda at regional and international tournaments. “We sanction programs to ensure that organizations meet standards and follow guidelines. We also mandate that coaches be SCARS certified,” he says.
The BBA is committed to the development of basketball in Bermuda. Two leagues usually run each year – one in Fall/winter and one in Spring/summer. COVID-19 changed this. “We haven’t run games since February of last year,” says Mr. Johnson. “We had to be proactive for the good of the game and to get ahead of things. We are shut down until we get the ‘green light.”
Instead of in-person games, the BBA pivoted, and went virtual. “We offer on-line tips and encouragement. We urge players to get outdoors, bounce a ball, practice their skills. Youth and Sport have done a good job at getting basketball courts in decent condition – Shelley Bay and Jones Village. Encourage kids to get outside, with social distancing, and play,” he says. The BBA also offers virtual coaching and referee clinics. How can we keep children interested in basketball? Mr. Johnson recommends keeping it fun. “Encourage them. Kids, especially the middle school years, have lots of outside distractions. Bring in older players and coaches - let them see what these people have accomplished and what it took to get to their level. Above all, keep it fun.”
Benefits of basketball? “Sports develops focus and leadership,” he says. “When boys and girls play basketball, the commitment translates to being a better student, brother, daughter, sister, son, etc. Teams are melting pots of backgrounds and viewpoints. Teammates can learn from one another.”
Final thoughts? “Young people have so much available to them,” says Mr. Johnson. “Encourage them. Support them. As coaches, and parents, we need to do the right thing. Make sure kids have opportunities to learn, to focus, to compete. Let them try different sports and when they find the sport they love, let them have fun with it.”