A call is being made for youth basketball players sixteen and younger to come out to a location near you this weekend as the Belize Basketball Federation launched its junior national team program. The regional tryouts which are being held on May twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth is a recruitment exercise where the best of the best youth athletes will be pooled with an aim to find twenty players who will later participate in year-round regional and international tournaments to qualify for the 2023 World Cup Basketball competition. News Five spoke with B.B.F. President Jacob Leslie and Associate Head Coach and basketball legend Darwin Leslie this weekend's event.

Jacob Leslie, President, Belize Basketball Federation

"We have been invited to participate in the U-seventeen World Cup qualifiers that's taking place next year. So the qualifying games are this year so the kids have to be U-sixteen so they have to born in 2006 or after. It is a late notification on our part because we just came in as a federation and so we are trying to make sure we pool all our resources to get these kids the opportunity. We wanted to visit every municipality to get a feel of all the youths in those areas but because of the short notice, we have to find stations and locations that we can bring everybody together."

Darwin Leslie, Associate Head Coach, Junior National Team Program

"We are looking for a couple things, attitude, your skill set, how you play individually, how you play with a team, and if you have the heart. If you play with the heart that you want to play for the country. This is not an ordinary workout; this is a national workout. We expect to see the best of the best in terms of that age group. That's who we are inviting. We are inviting everyone, but we are also inviting those players that have excelled at that age range."�

Jacob Leslie

"This team will represent Belize and right now we have no ranked teams in Belize - whether junior, senior, male or female. We are unranked because of lack of participation. So we need to make sure that our basketball team, our country is back on the map, back engaged and it will definitely happen. It will take a lot of work in a short period of time, but I am particularly proud and happy that we can engage because I do feel that at this age group we can compete for a medal."

The tryouts schedule is as follows: On Saturday for Cayo athletes, it is at the Hilltop Basketball Court in Belmopan from nine a.m. to twelve, midday. That same day, for athletes from Stann Creek and Toledo, the session is from two to five p.m. at the Chiste Garcia Auditorium in Dangriga. Then on Sunday, junior athletes from Belize district and the cayes will tryout at the Mexico Sports Center in Belize City in the morning, while the Orange Walk Multipurpose Complex will host the tryouts for the youth basketball athletes from Orange Walk and Corozal in the afternoon.


Channel 5