Alphonso Remikie has been involved in Jamaican basketball from the early developmental stages of the game. While a student at the St Catherine Primary School in the 1970s-one of the four schools where basketball was first introduced in Jamaica, Remikie became enraptured with the game.
“I would watch the older boys compete in games at the school and it was well-received,” he said.
Later when he moved on to St Catherine High School he joined the basketball team and has dedicated his life to the sport since.
“I love the game, I am very passionate about the game and about the development of the game and where the game can take you,” he said proudly.
Through basketball, Remikie earned scholarships to study and play at the Superor Institute of Physical Education Manuel Fajardo in Cuba, the University of Tubingen, and University of Freiburg in Germany and the Central Connecticut State University in the United States at different stages in his basketball journey.
Remikie also played for Jamaica’s junior and senior teams and coached basketball at the St Catherine High School, and in Germany as well.
National Basketball Coordinator
In the late1980s, he was appointed National Coordinator for basketball and dedicated his time to developing the sport in Jamaica.
“We started to do a lot of things,” he said. “Teaching coaches the proper way to coach and certifying them, having the game played all over the island instead of just Kingston and St Catherine. We had the division one basketball league which was called the Berger Paints Division One Basketball League. This was revamped into the National Basketball League which was elevated to the point where we played in the National Arena on a regular basis and the games were televised island-wide and across the Caribbean.”
Unfortunately, the league dwindled over time due to the loss of sponsorship.
As national coordinator, Remikie had a front-row seat to the fluctuating popularity of basketball in Jamaica and the developmental challenges facing the sport.
“Basketball’s popularity reached its highest point in the 1990s, but the popularity at the high school level especially has fluctuated,” he said. “Jamaica Basketball Association used to organize and run the school league, but it in the late 1990s it was taken over by the Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) and since then we’ve seen a decline in its popularity, in the number of persons supporting the sport, the sponsorship has declined,” he explained.
Another issue that he said plagued the sport over the years is the lack of resources and technical knowledge. Remikie explained that only three of the five conferences in which the island was divided into remain active; the central, western, and southern conferences.
“The other conferences for lack of human and material resources, have not been in operation for about 18 years now,” he said. Adding this although they are trying to remedy that it is difficult to find the people who are willing to commit.
Nonetheless, the Star Search Basketball and Life Skill Development Camp which Remikie started 21 years ago shine as his beacon of hope throughout the challenges. Through the camp, more than 70 students have received scholarships to attend school and play basketball in the United States.
“The camp is very unique in that we have 140 kids for five days in a residential situation and what we try to do is we try to assimilate them to the kind of training and schedule they’ll have to fit in if they get a scholarship to go overseas,” he said.
Remikie’s commitment to the sport’s development is still very active and is bolstered by all that he’s achieved over the years.
“The number of scholarships that I’ve been getting for youngsters throughout the years have given me the drive to continue. When I look in my living room I can see players that have played professionally and have passed through my hand; Jerome Jordan, Samardlo Samuels, Nick Richards, Anthony Simms, Romario Gill…these are all motivation to continue and to encourage me that I’m doing something worthwhile,” he said.
“I love the game, I am very passionate about the game and about the development of the game and where the game can take you.”Alphonso Remikie
Remikie, who is fluent in both Spanish and German said he has coached basketball at every level in Jamaica; the national juvenile, national senior, high school level, intercollegiate and national wheelchair basketball.
He highlighted that he also worked at GC Foster College in St Catherine as a lecturer and vice principal for three years. He officially retired in 2017.
Remikie foresees a basketball future in Jamaica where the sport is introduced from an early age as he believes this will create better players.
“Basketball must be introduced to the kids at that level. We generally introduce them at the high school level and that sometimes is too late for a lot of kids, so we need to go back,” he said.
But his greatest dream would be to see professional basketball revamped in Jamaica so that players who do not get the opportunity to go overseas to play can still earn a living from the sport.
This is why he is an avid supporter of the Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball League which will kick off this summer at the National Stadium. Rimikie expressed his enthusiasm at the possibility of his dream becoming a reality.
“I welcome it and I’m working with Wayne to make sure that he succeeds. This is something that we’ve always had in the pipeline that we want to do, but resources and technical know-how have limited us from taking that step. But I am committed to giving Wayne all the support I can,” he said.