By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
After their playing careers have ended, most of the territory’s sportsmen and women fade into obscurity and have no connection with sports, even though there are numerous opportunities outside of being confined to playing within the boundaries of the playing field.
Al Leonard of East End isn’t one of them. Five months ago, the former softball-baseball player launched Tropical Sports Agency, breaking into the highly competitive field. Among those Leonard have signed so far, is Leslee Smith of Long Look, to a contract and he’s currently playing with the Plymouth Raiders in the British Basketball League.
Leonard, who was speaking on a recent Sports Beat Magazine on CBN 90.9 FM, said he grew up in an era when Little League Baseball in the territory was crazy. He said a lot of young men who are seen in trouble today, were away from trouble because they grew up in baseball. Leonard said as he worked on his Masters Degree in Sports Management, he picked the brains of some of the players he grew up with, about what is being done for them on the professional level and learned about the misrepresentation—which didn’t sit well with him.
He said that he did something similar with basketball players and international players including NBA players, who expressed similar sentiments which also didn’t sit well with him.
“I met with a guy on the Brooklyn Nets who almost led the NBA in blocks last year and he told me that he had no endorsements,” Leonard stated. “I don’t see how you’re seen as the guy who almost led the NBA in blocks and don’t have any endorsements. I think that’s underrepresentation, so that led me to start the sports agency to say, hey, this isn’t cool and I can do a better job.”
Leonard added: “I must say it has been going rather well. It’s five months in and I’m extremely excited for the future.”
Leonard said he had several conversations with Smith—who came home in 2019 and had been misrepresented—and they looked at where he is now and what he’ll do for him over the summer and going forward.
“Misrepresentation will make you want to give up and go on to the next stage of your life,” Leonard explained of Smith’s case as well. “We had that conversation about his attitude, being disciplined and putting in the work to get back to the stage he was, when he was in the British Basketball League. He’s not quite there yet, but, he’s a hard worker and working on it.”
Leonard’s aim is to help fellow BVIslanders, see standards rise and be the middle ground between local coaches who are tied up with jobs and families in helping to guide youngsters including tutoring services. Being in the middle, coaches can then focus on developing youngsters.
“A lot of times we get guys into sports and we forget that they have to do schoolwork,” he said. “You can’t go anywhere without education. In order to be somebody, that education is key because not all of us can go pro.”
He said if youngsters are serious about sports, it’s isn’t just playing, then liming and cooling out. He advised having videos taken of them playing to examine and see where they can improve.
“Long story short, I would be that middle person to give the resources to build the athletes up to where they can compete on and international level,” he said.