Naveed Ahmad Mangla
Missionary in Charge, Belize
Ahmadiyya Basketball League Belize was invited to participate in the International Basketball Training, Hoops on the Beach, International Basketball Tournament held in Cancun, Mexico. We departed with 37 people consisting of three teams, coaches and administration team on Wednesday 27 June and returned to Belize on Sunday 1 July.
The three teams were chosen to represent Belize through a lengthy try-out process. The three teams were selected to play in different age groups, under 19 (U19), under 17 (U17) and under 15 (U15). The tournament had teams from Belize, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia and the United States of America in participation.
Our U19 team went undefeated throughout the tournament, defeating a strong team representing Florida in the semi-finals and winning the Championship against a tough Puerto Rican team in an overtime thriller. The U17 team was also very impressive and they remained undefeated throughout pool play. They made it to the finals but came up short versus the U17 team from Florida and finished as silver medallists.
This was our first time taking a U15 team and for many of the children it was their first time travelling abroad and their first time playing in a tournament of this magnitude. They had a good showing but fell in the quarterfinals.
Prior to the tournament I had a meeting with the Mayor of Belize City, respected Bernard Wagner and among other things I mentioned the tournament. The Mayor was very supportive and expressed his desire to accompany us and cheer on the teams from Belize. Thus, the Mayor travelled all the way to Cancun with his family to support the teams throughout the tournament.
We received a lot a of media coverage both before and after the tournament. Interviews were conducted by three major television and radio channels before departure to Cancun. The Amandala Newspaper also covered the story in their sports section. This was a great opportunity to help introduce the Jamaat and its humanitarian efforts.
Upon returning from the tournament, players, coaches and administration were invited to a special luncheon on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister, Honourable Mr. Patrick Faber and the National Sports Council. They appreciated the work we are doing and donated a cooler and basketballs to the league. We were also invited to a luncheon by Mayor Bernard Wagner and the Belize City Council. Both events were covered on nationwide television.