Sports — 09 May 2014 — by Kareem Clarke

8th Rose Classic Tournament inspires youth through basketball

Every Easter break for the last 8 years, hundreds of young men – and even young women – mainly from the impoverished areas of Belize City have flocked to the Rose Classic (Belize) International Basketball tournament, which is hosted annually by Mr. Cleon Hyde at Bird’s Isle in the Yarborough area.

Hyde, who organizes the tournament, can be described as a philanthropist who has been coming to Belize to mentor aspiring basketball players and young people in general, while training them on the skills and techniques of the sport, as well as discipline and respect for others.

The young ‘ballers’ were divided into 3 categories: (1) the Biddy category, which consisted of 8 teams made up of players from 8-12 years old; (2) the Junior category, which consisted of players aged 13-15; and (3) the Senior category, which was made up of players who are the top high school basketball players from the city as well as some rural areas.

In the finals for the Biddy category, the Blazers faced off against the Clippers, and the Blazers emerged as the winners by a score of 39 to 20. The Biddy’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) was Thijean Usher from Team Blazers; Eldon Byrd got the Sportmanship award;Keith Acosta was named the Best Coach in the Biddy category; and the Scholar Award went to Kasheed Samuels.

The top 2 teams in the Junior category that played for the championship were Team ‘G’ and Team ‘B’, and Team ‘G’ defeated Team ‘B’ by a score of 47 to 31. The MVP award was given to HoldaneSuazo; Joel Westby received the Sportsmanship award; Paul Flowers got the Scholar award; and Stefen Dixon was awarded as Best Coach in the Junior category.

In the Seniors competition, Team ‘B’ and Team ‘D’ faced off for the championship, and Team ‘D’ proved to be no match for Team ‘B,’ who trounced their opponents 58 to 39.

After the awards were distributed, Amandala spoke to Cleon Hyde, who is the President of Rose Classic (Belize) International organization, and he told us that the tournament has expanded from 75 children to over 300 since its inception in 2006, and it is aimed at giving kids an opportunityto have fun and interact with new friends while playing basketball.

He said, “The program teaches focus, discipline, and positive attitudes, and since there are a lot of negative influences around nowadays, it is easy for kids to fall by the wayside; but what we are trying to do is to get them in the right frame of mind so that they can open themselves to better opportunities in life.”

Rose Classic International is a youth basketball skills academy/basketball league which is based in the United States, and according to Hyde, he religiously makes the trip to Belize every year out of love for the youth who are seeking something constructive to do over the Easter holidays.

The competition began on Monday, April 14, and lasted until Friday, April 25; and Hyde told us that by next year he hopes to expand the program to the districts as well.

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