Basketball teams and volleyball teams from mainly St. Maarten, but also from Aruba, St. Eustatius, Saba and the Netherlands participated in this highly successful event that drew several hundred students and young professionals from the islands to Oranje Sports Hall. This reports The Daily Herald.
Some 85 basketball players, divided over twelve teams, and about 30 volleyball players from five teams took part in a fierce, yet pleasant competition during the third USC Dutch Caribbean All-Star Athletics Day. The winning team for basketball was Star Ballers All Stars from Saba. Gepidae, a mixed Aruba and St. Maarten team, won the volleyball competition. The East Poole, consisting of the teams’ Best Kept Secret (St. Maarten), Unorthodox (St. Maarten), St. Maarten Show Stoppers, St. Eustatius Warriors, Star Ballers (the Netherlands/Curaçao/Saba), Los Rancheros (Aruba) took on the West Poole with the teams Snack Cove (St. Maarten), Last Minute Ballers (St. Maarten), Iguana Warriors (Aruba), Team Slitheren (St. Eustatius), Star Ballers All-Stars (Curaçao/Saba/Netherlands) and Smooth Operators (the Netherlands) until two teams were left.
In the finals, Star Ballers lost from the Star Ballers All-Stars, while Best Kept Secret ended in third place. The dunk competition, a new element this year and highly popular, was won by Uli from St. Eustatius. Small Islands Unity (SIU) of Kyle Brown, better known as The One Man Asylum DJ Spy, had four teams at the volleyball competition. They ended up second and third, but they did win the Lord of the Rings serve competition, whereby the best servers of the teams had to score in the rings that were placed on the field.
Two first-year students from St. Maarten were on SIU team, Chris George and Ruth-Ann Bell. Asked how things were going so far in the Netherlands, Chris said: “There are always bumps, but in general it is going smooth.” “You learn to survive far from home on a small budget. It is challenging, but we help each other,” said Ruth-Ann who lives in the same building, in Science Park Amsterdam, as Chris.
Chris and Ruth-Ann were very positive about Saturday’s USC event, in fact all students with whom The Daily Herald spoke to were. “It brings us together. It is nice to see everyone,” said Chris. “You see lots of people from back home. It makes you feel like you’re at home and not in the Netherlands,” said Ruth-Ann.
“This is very much needed. It is a very good initiative to come together and have a good time,” said Nataly Linzey from Saba/St. Maarten and part of SIU volleyball team. Linzey, a member of the Kingdom Youth Parliament held on St. Maarten earlier this year, was very positive about the fact that more islands participated this year. “It shows that we want to get together. We have a lot in common and we want to engage in positive events together.” Papito Hersisia from Curaçao, and a member of Star Ballers basketball team, said he liked the event, also because he knew many of the basketball players. “This is my first time here. It is nice that the islands get together; a very positive initiative that is worth repeating.”
USC Chairwoman Melissa Gumbs confirmed that the event was highly successful. She said the attendance was even higher than expected. “Many people from the other islands also came out to support, and this gave the event a distinctly island flair.”
Gumbs specifically wanted to thank the sponsors, Le Beau Reizen, PricewaterhouseCoopers and St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies. “Without their support this event would not have been possible,” she said.
USC had a team of 26 volunteers and committed members present at the event, which took months to prepare. It was the first time that USC organised the event on its own. This year, the organisation asked the Dutch Basketball Federation to help out with referees to ensure a fair, professional competition. For those participants and spectators with children, there was the kiddies’ corner where they were entertained. Food was again supplied by Snack Cove. A First Aid team was at hand to assist with the minor injuries.
In October, USC will host its Operation Gouda Cheese event for the first-year students and on December 1, the foundation will end the year with its 1st Annual Christmas Gala, which will focus on the theme “Stronger Ties, Stronger Kingdom.”