Young hoops team training for overseas tournament

A group of local youngsters gather every Saturday for two hours to practice a sport they love and to prepare to take their talents overseas.

The CI Hoopsters basketball club is working with its 12-and-Under players to fine-tune their skills ahead of an Amateur Basketball Union (AAU) tournament in Tallahassee, Florida in April.

CI Hoopsters coach Daniel Augustine said the club started taking players to AAU tournaments in 2014, with the club setting a trend locally.  “These boys were elite [players] so we wanted something more challenging for them,” he said in an interview with

While the opportunity has been afforded to older players, this is the first time that Augustine will be taking a 12-and-Under squad to the tournament, where they can test their mettle against some of the top American players in their age group but also be seen by coaches and scouts looking for players to attend high school in the United States.

CI Hoopsters already has established links Stateside, having helped provide opportunities for youngster to attend school there.

“By going to these kinds of tournaments, the network becomes much bigger. That’s one of the reasons why we go,” Augustine said.

Coach Augustine gives instructions during a training session at the UCCI Gym.

He also described the level of competition as phenomenal. “There’s no false sense of reality there. If you’re good, you’ll know you are good. If you’re not good, you’ll find out quickly,” he said quite matter-of-factly.

However, he’s optimistic that his players will do well at the Florida tournament. “I think they will do extremely well. They have never been to a tournament like this before. So, our main goal is to gain some positive experience through our time up there,” the coach said.

A win, he added, would provide a great boost to the programme as a showcase of what can happen when players take the sport seriously.

Getting there requires funding and Augustine said parents have been on the ball in assisting with this. “They have a sponsor sheet that the kids can walk around with and talk to people who are sponsoring them about what their goals are,” he said.

Part of their fundraising efforts will be a booth selling snacks and refreshments at the Agriculture Show on Ash Wednesday.

Another Florida trip beckons for youngsters in the CI Hoopsters programme. They are also invited to attend the Billy Mims Basketball Camp in July. Mims is the head coach of the Florida Tech Panthers, who compete in NCAA Division II.


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