Funding a roadblock to progress in local basketball – Turner
HAVING already missed out on the qualifying phase for the 2024 Paris Olympics, head coach of the Jamaica’s men’s senior basketball team Rick Turner believes, with proper preparation and proper funding, the country could book a spot at the 2025 Basketball World Cup. Turner, who has been at the helm since 2019, says his main struggle so far has been the issue of funding.
“Preparations have been a challenge for us, but, really, one of the main roadblocks to us having a healthy and vibrant team is funding, and that’s a consistent theme in this region. My focus is on trying to get in front of people who want to join us on this historic journey, and want to partner with Jamaican basketball and try to understand what is it that we are trying to accomplish,” said Turner.
As part of his duties as head coach of the men’s basketball team, Turner has to identify new players, and it is a battle that he embraces and hopes that process will see Jamaica vibrant again on the world stage.
“I’ve been working on it every day for the past three years, identifying players and growing a pool of players to choose from, and trying to be elite again on the international stage. But, until we get that funding piece sorted out, our ability to prepare, meaning having tryouts, training camps and all the things necessary to get us ready to go, will be affected,” he said.
Coach Turner added that the country has shown glimpses, in the past, of what they are capable of doing on the international stage, if they’re given sufficient time to prepare for a major championship.
“If you go back to April of 2021, which was the tournament in El Salvador, we got into that (tournament) at the last minute and the team, which was dormant since 2013, had three weeks to prepare, and what we did was super encouraging. One of the things it pointed out to us was, with adequate time (to prepare), the sky is the limit for us,” said Turner.
With the flurry of attention local basketball in Jamaica has seen since the start of 2023, coach Turner believes that these moves the Paulton Gordon-led administration is carrying out can only mean good for the country.
“We just completed a big FIBA coaching session back in December, with a bunch of local coaches getting certified, and, in order to grow the sport from a grass roots level, you have to get people involved that understand the game and can teach and coach it,” Turner said.