With two days to the endorsement of the 2015/2016 Fiscal Budget, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has fixed the date for the 2015/2016 Upcountry Basketball Tournament for Thursday, November 5 to Saturday, November 8.
The four-day basketball festival will be held for the first time (over two decades), at the Ganta United Methodist School in Ganta, Nimba County.
Assistant Sports Minister Murvee Gray told the Daily Observer yesterday that the tourney would bring nine schools from nine counties.
The counties include Bong County, the home of the defending champions – St. Martins; Margibi, Grand Bassa, Lofa, Nimba (the host), Grand Gedeh, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Montserrado.
Chairman Gray said so far, only three schools have been selected to represent their respective counties, which included St. Martins (Bong); BWI (Margibi) and Ganta United School (Nimba).
He said the remaining six schools from the other counties would be identified subsequently and be informed.
A Special Upcountry Basketball tournament was held in March 2015 owing to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD). St. Martins won the tournament.
“I want to thank the following sponsors for their support during the Special Upcountry basketball tournament, they include NASSCORP, NPA, Monrovia Breweries, SRIMEX, SP and Aminata and Sons,” Ministry Gray said.
He named others as: “Bea Mountains, Liberia National Olympics Committee, Liberia Bank for Development and Investment, LPRC and Cllr. Nyan Gbaitor.”
It may be recalled that in 2013 Margibi-based Booker Washington Institute (BWI) whipped Ganta United Methodist High School 50-47 to win the reactivated Championship at the William V.S Tubman Gray United Methodist High School Gymnasium in Gbarnga City.
Ganta United Methodist lost the gigantic trophy when they suffered similar defeat at the hands of St. Martin High School in 2012.
The competition was initiated in the 1970s to help promote the game among high schools in the central region, which at the time comprised of Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties. It is named in honor of Dr. Harold McGowan, a legendary Peace Corps volunteer who inaugurated the tournament about three decades ago.
The amount of US$13,000 has been allotted in the national budget.