Tuesday, 15 February 2011

What will save the ailing Kenyan Basketball scene?

Kenya is easily one of the best sporting nations in the continent. But some of the disciplines are clearly putting the nation to shame. Coming as it from foreign assignments, it's a bit disheartening given that there is quite some interest for some of the sporting disciplines, only for the squabbles, demotivating practices to chase away any interested parties - be they youth talent or corporate organisations.
Patriotism v/s Exploitation
Kenya Basketball Federation, led by none other than Mr. Paul Otula. What is happening in Rwanda? Having gone for the All-African Games qualifiers, the teams (both men and women) were seen to be likely to qualify for the continental games to be held in September this year in Maputo, Mozambique.
Before leaving there was a statement made that the national teams training would not be entitled to daily allowances which are usually mandatory for players for engaging their services. For most of these players, there are no regular sources of income and such a declaration would be clearly break the morale of the team.
Getting to Rwanda and the teams do not have official kit for training and have to borrow from their hosts. Also there is no team doctor ( totally suicidal given the physical toll that the game takes on players). All over sudden all hell breaks lose and the team captains ( Ben Oluoch and Angela Luchivya) are handed an indefinite ban for allegedly pushing internal revolt and boycott from the players. From unconfirmed sources, one of the reason was that the players were getting a daily allowance of KShs.500 ( around $6.25). Even if its is patriotism, this is a pittance for national duty. Then follows a unilateral withdrawal of the Federation from the qualifiers as a way of seeking to cover the underlying issues instead of addressing them ( though the Kenya National Sports Council had to intervene and ask the teams to continue playing).
What is wrong with these sports officials? If you had no funds going into national camp, it wouldn't hurt to appeal for funds from the locals. It would also be better to clearly outline the trip's difficulties in good time in case any player wants to withdraw their participation. Clearly it's not too much to ask, but when shall you take the game to another level?
Co-op Bank v/s KCB Lions 2010, photo courtesy of www.michezoafrika.com

Disgraced Play-offs
If the end of the season was anything to go by, we are not entirely suprised by the happenings in Rwanda. The men's playoff finals were a sham. Game 3 had to be abruptly stopped with the claim that one of the team's fans (KCB Lions) were going to disrupt the game and cause physical harm to referees officiating the game. Some of the players from the two teams ( the other was regular play-off contenders Co-op Bank) are in the national team of course, this time representing national interest.

But for a Federation not able to organise its own house, it is not for the Commissioner of Sports to call them to order. There have been claims of maintaining the status quo, but even then, there is nothing much to show. How many basketball courts have they been able to build? How many teams are currently playing in the national and formerly provincial leagues? Does the Federation have a plan of what they want the game to be now, in 1 year, 5 years? Having a senior FIBA official from the continental body ( by the name of Maurice Aluanga who was once KBF Chair), what synergies has the Federation sought to build the local game?

Someone needs blow the whistle on this situation before we lose the game and it becomes a by-gone era. Anyone courageous enough to call it as it is?
You can follow the local basketball scene here, www.kenyahoops.wordpress.com 


NiCk Sego said...

Thanks for reading my site and thanks for the shout out. The state of our basketball remains doomed as long as we still the same people running things the same way. Elections don't mean much but rotate the faces around but nothing changes and our basketball suffers.
I feel for our players especially the national team players and how they were treated this past week in Rwanda yet at home the media will read that the players are malcontents and looking to cash in on the opportunities. That is the farthest thing from the truth. But do you expect the media to listen to a Ben Oluoch or listen to the chairman of K.B.F. That's why I do what I do. I stick up for the players and let their voices be heard. Someday it'll bear fruit. Until then I'll keep chipping away at the rock.

The Figure said...

Thanks Nick for the work you are doing. It is true the basketball scene is despicable and much work needs to be done. Just as a matter of concern, how come the players do not have an association that looks after their interests? There needs to be some body that looks into the clubs and players separately. That way KBF can stop calling the shots even when they have nothing much to talk about.

Nick Sego said...

That is a good question. It would make a lot of sense to have a players union or association looking out for the players and teams and keeping KBF accountable for their action(inaction!).

There have been attempts to start such an organization but I don't think it really worked out because players would still end up having to run that organization. During last year's strike, there was an informal union of player/team representatives who were working out their issues with KBF. It's not easy to find a non-player/non-team official that will run the organization and let the players/coaches do what they do.

I guess this is something that I can bring up in conversations with players and coaches and see what their thoughts are.


Anonymous said...

am happy to have read this cause we are seeing how bad things are. there are so many things that need to be sorted as from the federation to the referring players and so on and on.
we need to turn our league professional so that players can make a good living in sports .
its sad to hear our neighbours are doing so well in sports having good long terms plans
kenyas please lets save kenyan basketball it is heading nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Am happy to read this