June 29, 2012
The head coach of the women's national volleyball team yesterday launched an impassioned plea for the return of $7,000 worth of men's and women's uniforms stolen outside the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium on Tuesday.
The teams were dealt a major blow when their playing gear was snatched from head coach Joe Smith's truck as the teams practiced inside the gym. The robbers gained access to Smith's vehicle by smashing the window on the driver's side. Smith, head coach of the national women's squad, was alerted to the incident just minutes after it happened. He also appealed to the business community to assist in the purchase of new uniforms if those stolen are not returned.
"We had just gotten the uniforms for the national teams. They were in my truck which was parked outside," said Smith. "During the practice, one of the coaches came and said that there had been a robbery. Everyone left the gym, came outside and saw that my truck was broken into and all of the uniforms were stolen.
"We had 50 sets (in two boxes) which would have covered both the men and women's teams - the jerseys, pants, coaches' shirts along with the paraphernalia that they would have needed. They were valued at about $7,000. That's because we had to pay duty on them. We brought them in from Mississippi, the Adidas factory."
The two teams are currently training for the Caribbean Volleyball Championships (CVC), set to take place in St. Croix, the U.S. Virgin Islands. The unfortunate incident has placed the executive members of the Bahamas Volleyball Federation (BVF) in a tight spot. They are now scrambling to replace the stolen gear before the teams travel. The men's squad will leave for competition on July 13, and the women's team will head off on July 22.
The CVC is a regional tournament used as a qualifier for major international tournaments, for the English-speaking countries in the Caribbean. The Bahamas men's team is one of the favorites in the tournament. The women's squad is also a threat to some of the powerhouses like Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.
Smith said: "We have about two more weeks before the teams travel. We are pleading to the communities and the businesses, through the media houses, to come on broad to help us replenish these uniforms. So far, we have spoken with some companies, Scotiabank, The Bahamas Eye Center, Royal Bank of Canada, and the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC). We have sent pleas to them to see if they can help us with this endeavor so we can try and get the uniforms back. The teams cannot go unless they are uniformed.
"I brought them (the uniforms) to the gym so we can get them to the printers. The uniforms were going to get the flag, numbers and The Bahamas' name printed on them. They just came in from the couriers. We just cleared them and brought them to the gym so we could have given them to the guy who was coming to collect them to do the printing. This is definitely a setback. We just hope that mentally, it is not a setback. Practice was at its lowest that night. We basically had to shut practice down. People were not concentrating anymore on that."
Practice sessions for the two national teams were held again yesterday. Smith was confident that the two squads could bounce back from the blow on Tuesday. Noting that the time to travel was rapidly approaching, he encouraged the players to focus on the game, and to allow the executive members to concentrate on the missing uniforms.
According to Smith, a thorough investigation was launched by the Royal Bahamas Police Force. The uniforms were the newest models just released by Adidas. Smith begged the public not to purchase any of the attire and asked the culprits to return the uniforms.
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