What should have been a grand, monumental occasion for The St Lucia Basketball Federation (SLBF) began on a sombre note, as they fondly remembered one of their own who died at the Beausejour Cricket Ground following a tragic accident.
Prior to making their big announcement at Tuesday’s press conference at the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports conference room at the Blue Coral Building, the SLBF executive observed a minute of silence for Julian Agard, who coached the Canaries Moon River basketball team. Before proceedings got underway Public Relations Officer of the SLBF, Neil Joseph, addressed the gathering. “Most of you know Julian was an integral part of the basketball federation being an affiliate coach of the Canaries Moon River. His funeral is next week so we just wanted to pay our respect to him.”
After being introduced, President of the SLBF, Leslie Collymore, seemed rather anxious and could hardly wait to make a formal announcement which in basketball terminology turned out to be a slam dunk for the federation.
Here’s what he had to say: “The St Lucia Basketball Federation, in collaboration with Blazin 99.3, is pleased and excited to invite you here to share with you the KFC Celebrity Basketball Camp, under the patronage of two-time NBA Champion from the Miami Heat Mario Chalmers, AKA Super Mario.”
He went on to say: “The SLBF’s mandate is to promote and manage the sport and in particular the mini hoops initiative. Any successful sporting program begins at the youth level. Despite all the initiatives the SLBF has put on before our focus is and always will be youth development to transition on to a platform, where St Lucia can really have a sustainable and strong basketball program. This initiative is more than timely in terms of using Mr Chalmers’ and by extension the Miami Heat’s star power, to really advance and drum up support for the sport.”
The celebrity camp takes place at the Vigie Multi-Purpose Sports Complex on August 31 from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
It promises to be a fun and exciting affair not only for the participants but also spectators. There will be a slam dunk contest, three point shooting competition and a celebrity exhibition game. In addition there is an autograph signing session with the Miami Heat star along with prizes and giveaways courtesy of sponsors.
How was the SLBF able to lure the Miami Heat player to St Lucia? Dwayne Mendes of Blazin said: “Through a mutual friendship I was able to get in touch with Mario Chalmers. He was very keen to come to St Lucia and hang out and so immediately I got in touch with the basketball federation.”
Turns out Mendes and the SLBF President are old friends and discussed the possibility of bring the NBA player here. Mendes began looking for sponsorship and through his relationship with KFC, was able to get them to pay for the player’s entire appearance fee.
Speaking on behalf of KFC, Otis Effs said: “It is an honour to be part of such an event. With KFC under its new management we want to be known as a family restaurant. We take a lot of interest in children and the youth and want to be part of initiatives to support youth development whether it be sports, education and so on. We were very excited to hear about Mario Chalmers coming to St Lucia and very excited to be a part of it.”
In addition to KFC, LIME is also a sponsor. LIME Corporate Communications Officer, Terry Finisterre said “this is a wonderful opportunity for these young people who are going to be part of this clinic. We are pleased to be associated with it and look forward to its success and hopefully next year we can bring down the whole team.”
Ligorious Marquis, who is the Basketball Officer in the Ministry for Youth Development and Sports, let it be known that the ministry is also excited about having Mario Chalmers here and is willing to do anything within their power to accommodate him and the SLBF.
Before the press conference came to a conclusion, the KFC representative announced there would be an in store promotion, whereby any customer who spends $25.00 or more at KFC would be eligible to win a ticket for two to a Miami Heat game on October 29. What they will see on that day is the world champions going up against the Chicago Bulls.
The SLBF invites all affiliates and in particular mini hoops teams, to participate in the KFC Celebrity Basketball Camp and the various activities. The entry fee for the general public is $10.00 and $5.00 for children under 12.