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Hoop of Life costs $12m
The inaugural Hoop of Life Community Basketball League competition was staged at a cost of $12 million. This was revealed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar during yesterday’s prize-distribution ceremony at St Barb’s Basketball Court, Laventille. However, she said the million-dollar first prize, which was won by Laventille, will be increased by a further $500,000 for this year’s tournament, which is set to begin next month.
Marabella was runners-up in the tournament, collecting $500,000 for their efforts. Led by Most Valuable Player Stephen “Lighter” Lewis, Laventille swept their Marabella counterparts 2-0 in the best-of-three final series earlier this month. Throughout the tournament, both teams were well supported by their communities and officials were overwhelmed by the hundreds of supporters who turned out for the two games of the final.
Yesterday, the PM said the victory was not only for the team but for everyone who lived in the Laventille community. She said when Laventille was at peace creativity prospered and when it was at war national development was hurt. The tournament, which was administered by the Ministries of National Security and Sport, was launched last year by former National Basketball Association (NBA) legend Shaquille O'Neal.
Teams from throughout the country took part in the event, which was designed to bring depressed communities together and to reduce crime through sport. President Anthony Carmona, who assumed office on Monday, attended the ceremony. It was his first public engagement. He was not scheduled to speak but asked the Prime Minister to tell the winning team he wished that they “live this moment of success every day of your life.”
National Security Minister Jack Warner said the event was a tremendous successs despite the criticisms from those opposed to it. Many felt the tournament did not do much to reduce crime, especially since a crime spree continued in Laventille and environs while the basketballers swept through the tournament.
But Warner said the tournament served its purpose, adding a Caribbean All-Star team was to be selected to play a match against the winning Laventille team. Skipper of the winning team, Kenneth Roberts, thanked his teammates, coaching staff and the Laventille community for supporting them throughout the tournament. He also thanked the Government for giving the players an opportunity to showcase their talent across the country.
During the prize-distribution function, Laventille-born calypsonian Sandra “Singing Sandra” des Vignes also appealed to Persad-Bissessar to provide the necessary resources to ensure sport and culture could be used to develop the country and reduce crime.
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