Empower Sports Network in Canada Bahamas exchange

EMPOWER Sports Network (ESN) seeks to solidify its plans of establishing an exchange programme between the Bahamas and Canada for aspiring student athletes on the basketball court.

ESN hosted tryouts for its boys Under-15-18 teams at the Canada Games Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

ESN director Ollen Smith, who also currently serves as an assistant coach with the St Mary’s Huskies men’s basketball programme, hopes the exchange between players in the Bahamas and Canada will create a sporting and cultural exchange in both locations.

Smith has recruited Bahamian players Qyemah Gibson and Sebastian Gray to the Huskies for the 2019-20 season.

Smith and ESN will host a three-day exhibition circuit in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the early summer months, with dates still to be decided. “The eastern part of Canada has more than 10 schools open to the idea of recruiting Bahamian talent. The idea is to have everyone play in front of coaches and local crowds, visit universities that fellow Bahamians attend and have a tour of the city with players on both college and university levels,” he said. “The secret is out here, Bahamian athletes are competitors and add a tremendous amount of worth to the programmes throughout the nation.”

The local segment of ESN charged with preparing the Bahamian and logistical issues players includes Darshtyn Baker, Tiffany Wildgoose and Latoya Silver.

“We want to make every year bigger and better and we eventually want ESN to have its own AAU team, showcase females through the exchange programme, develop actual leagues and utilise the brand that can be a connection for culture and sports because it’s a new avenue, not just for school but it’s also a way for a better life,” Smith said.

Teams from the Halifax area will live and train in the Bahamas for an extended period of time, while the teams from ESN will do the same in Canada.

“It will be a focal point for sports tourism, help transition with cultural differences and give these kids an idea of what to expect before you actually come to school in Canada. So the plan is to have about 30 kids come to Halifax, meet the coaches, see the schools, be immersed in the culture. We want the same for Canadians to have them here, working out on the beach and also being a part of our culture.”

ESN plans to teach the importance of youth development through sports and education. The brand also hosts sporting events to showcase great talent near and far.

Smith, a former junior national team standout, has made the transition to coaching and training to impact a future generation of student-athletes in the Bahamas.

The organisation plans to focus on the development of youth basketball throughout the country.