Basketball Sport

HOOPS! with KAONA MWEMBE
FOR over a decade now league matches under the umbrella of the Zambia Basketball Federation have been centralised to a few venues based on criteria and the decision that was made to do so was preceded by a situation where initially clubs playing in the league were conditionally admitted on the premise that they had a home court.
I was party to the decision that games, especially in Lusaka, should be played in one venue and restricted to indoor courts such as the National Sports Development Centre (NASDEC), University of Zambia Sports Hall and Zamsure.
The decision was taken considering that although basketball is primarily an indoor and outdoor sport; it has evolved into being an indoor activity in terms of high level competitions.
Secondly and more importantly, the national governing body needed to generate income by way of charging entry fees at the door, and only an indoor facility would work the objective.
Prior to that, there was a rule that teams hosting games would remit a percentage of their gate takings to the mother body but obedience and enforcement of the regulation failed.
During that era, teams hosted league matches and very few failed and some attracted a following that only watched them play at home and not away, a classic example being Lusaka City Council Looters, who always had a larger crowd of supporters at home than away.
The picture was the same on the Copperbelt with courts like Chawama (Mufulira), Mindolo (Kitwe), Roan (Luanshya), Vestra later named Nchanga (Chingola) and Zamsure in Ndola to name a few.
Siavonga’s now disbanded Kariba Spurs also hosted games on a court that stood right on the edge of the Lake!
Why this background information? Early last week, I received some concerns from a former executive whose name I shall not mention but he raised an issue on the need to take basketball to places beyond NASDEC.
He felt that by restricting basketball to only the current venues was making the sport an elite spectator sport with a catchment exposure averaging five hundred people, yet if high level games could be played in communities, a greater following would be attracted and similar effect would be gained in terms of sponsorship.
He contended that no sponsor would want to put in money where only five hundred or so people would appreciate the services provided hence there is need to rethink the position.
For instance, basketball at the University of Zambia was a crowd puller among the student population, who on a day when Honeys or Pacers would have to play away from campus, would not have time to follow the teams to another venue.
Last year in the first week of September, I did reflect on this subject where I outlined the need for clubs to host games and why it would work well in terms of trickle-down effect.
It is a position that would be wise to review but one of the challenges that always come with such an issue is accepting change.
Perhaps it is time to get back to playing home and away with teams hosting games.
Have a blessed week! mdkaona@gmail.com

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