Special Olympics and youth benefit from CI Classic camps

Grand Cayman hosts NCAA basketball teams at the John Gray High School Gymnasium for the 2018 Cayman Islands Classic, but before the excitement of having division one schools put on a show, tournament organisers hosted two camps over the weekend.

Junior players and Special Olympics Cayman Islands (SOCI) benefited from coaches and others participants associated with the tournament that is now in its second year.

Around 80 to 90 youngsters packed the gym at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre on Saturday morning, 17 November, where local coaches and members of the Cayman Islands national team helped them work on their skills.

Nicolai Manzanares dribbles by a defender at the youth camp.


Then in the afternoon, it was time for Special Olympics Cayman Islands to get some hoops guidance from Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro, the technical director for basketball in the Cayman Islands and president of Caymax Sports Ltd, which organises the tournament.

Coach Voot led the session, giving the players tips on the basics of basketball and other pointers to help them on the court.

SOCI basketball head coach, Fareed Hosein, welcomed having his athletes get additional coaching opportunities. “They get training from myself and a couple of other basketball coaches but it is always good to get different exposure. It’s great to have a different point of view and experience for the athletes,” he told CaymanSportsBuzz.com.

Coach Voot gets the attention of SOCI athletes, as he shares some basketball tips.

The Special Olympics camp was sponsored by Cayman National Bank. CNB’s Manager of Communications and Marketing, Shari Welcome, was on hand. “It’s really gratifying. Just seeing all the athletes get hands on experience. I think this will be very valuable when they are off to Abu Dhabi next year. The interaction with the coach is great. I can really feel the passion behind it. It’s really rewarding,” she said.

Hosein was grateful for the support of Cayman Islands Classic and CNB, as he prepares to take a unified basketball team to the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi in March to defend the bronze medal won in 2015 in Los Angeles.

“Any exposure to sports, any type of sports, is good for our athletes. We like the fact that Cayman National is partnering with us. To run a programme like Special Olympics Cayman Islands takes a lot of community involvement financially and physically, so it’s great that we can have a camp like this,” the SOCI coach said.

Joe Wright demonstrates a dribbling drill.

Caymax Sports CEO Joe Wright got involved in the coaching and appeared to have as much fun as the participants at both camps. “It’s a lot of fun. Everyone is having a good time,” he said during a short break from helping SOCI athletes with their dribbling skills.

The Cayman Islands Classic has been established as one of the most challenging Division I Men’s early-season college basketball tournaments. This year’s lineup will feature powerhouse programs including Creighton, Clemson, University of Georgia, St, Bonaventure, Georgia State, Akron University, Illinois State and Boise State. Play begins Monday and continues until Wednesday.

80-90 junior players packed the gym for the morning session.

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