By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#BEFORE the end of the year, Land Sand International Development Company is expected to have the mystic AF Adderley Gym restored with a new $120,000 maple floor that will be done in time for the hosting of the prestigious Hugh Campbell Basketball Classic for senior boys in February.
Pictured: Doug Collins, principal Theophilus Claridge, Evan Wisdom, Drexwell Miller and Alfred Forbes
#During a special assembly for the faculty and students of AF Adderley Junior High School on Monday, Evon Wisdom, the director of sports in the Ministry of Education, presented the new floor to principal Theophilus Claridge in a ceremony that was attended by former principal Drexwell Miller, who had agitated prior to leaving for the restoration of the gym.
#Also in attendance was Doug Collins, who along with Alsworth ‘Whitey’ Pickstock, petitioned then principal Errol Bethel for the creation of the tournament in 1982.
#And Alfred Forbes, who joined the school the following year, but not only served as the chairman of the committee, who has been in charge of the scheduling of games since its inception, was also present.
#Due to the deterioration of the floor in the gym, organisers were forced to relocate the entire tournament to the Kendal Isaacs Gym. But once the renovations are completed, the plan is to have the tournament relocated to “Tiger Country” for the 31st version in February.
#Substituting for the Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald, Wisdom said the resurfacing of the floor at AF Adderley was a consultation from successive principals and now they are fulfilling the government’s commitment in the investment of the Bahamian children.
#“The floor itself is worth about $120,000. It’s a very, very expensive floor,” Wisdom said.
#“We are looking at a few upgrades in terms of painting, interior and exterior, so that we can look at the return of the Hugh Campbell Tournament to this gym. We look at this as a facility upgrade that will happen to a number of schools, as funds permit.”
#As one of the chief architects of the tournament, Collins said he’s delighted to see the true focus returning to the mystic gym.
#“The community will benefit from it because now we will come back and get down to the real nitty gritty with basketball on this island,” Collins said. “I remember when I used to call games. I remember when people got mad because they couldn’t get back into the gym. I remember high school games when (as the coach) the Tigers were rocking. It’s so central. I believe that when the whole configuration of this school is changed, things will change in the neighbourhood.”
#Forbes called it the proudest moment in his life over the last 30 years.
#“To see that when I first came here to this gym, we were using a rubber floor and I was here when the old floor was placed in,” he said. “Now to see the ripping up of the old floor and the placing of a new one, it does my heart good and it goes well for what the Hugh Campbell is going to be like next year.”
#Van Johnson, whose Land Sands company has already began the work of lifting the floor, said he’s honoured and privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to repair the gym.
#“We were given five weeks,” said Johnson, who introduced the members of his staff who will have the responsibility of placing the new maple floor in the gym. “The floor is a very hard floor and it’s durable. It should last almost a lifetime. We should have it finished before the end of the year.”
#With the Hugh Campbell scheduled for February, Forbes said they are hoping that they will have all of the teams from Grand Bahama participating next year.
#“If we can play here, we will not only bring teams here, but we will bring the crowd here too,” Forbes said. “The atmosphere will be so vibrant. The GSSSA is looking for the completion of this floor because the venues have been few for us to use. We can now spread out from DW Davis and CI Gibson to come back to a central location. This is the best area that we get our best participation of fans.”
#During the ceremony, which was held under the theme: “To God be the Glory,” Wisdom along with Miller and Claridge broke up the remainder of the old floor and they laid out the new floor as the Rev Eric Lightbourne, another former teacher, prayed for the renovations which are already underway.