HOOPS! with KAONA MWEMBE
SINCE basketball took organisational form, a number of venues have been used as basketball courts for league and international fixtures.
But sadly, quite a number exist or if they do, they qualify to be classified as memorial sites and this week, I wish to reflect on such facilities.
CATS DEN – KABWE
Cats Den was the home of the then Zambia Railways-Sponsored Kabwe Cats hosting a number of league games and cup qualifying fixtures organised by the national governing body of the sport, then known as the Zambia Basketball Association.
Today, the Den is truly a den reflecting little of the basketball activity that took place there where it thrived as an approved court.
LOOTERS ABBATOR – LUSAKA
This was the home court of Lusaka City Council Basketball Club after relocating from the Civic Centre car park off Independence Avenue but a decision by local government representatives saw the piece of land sold off to a private investor who promised to put up modern sporting infrastructure that will include a basketball court accessible by the community.
The abattoir was not just a slaughter house for visiting teams but a facility that was an academy for the surrounding community where boys and girls went to learn basketball in their leisure time.
Under the late Anderson Nyemba, besides being the home venue for league matches for LCC Looters and Lootresses, it was a venue that attracted a following from the surrounding densely populated areas.
ZAMSURE – NDOLA
In the days when the Refined Oil Products thrived before being sold off to Unilever, a prestigious tournament – ROP Cup was a prominent feature of the basketball calendar annually and its finals were always played at Zamsure Sports Complex.
Zamsure Ndola later renamed Premium Legends were the team that registered the court as their home venue – located outside Itawa residential area around Mackenzie settlement.
For me, it was the Wembley Stadium of Zambian Basketball drawing teams to play for the ultimate piece of silverware.
Since the owners eased their grip on managing the premises, the court has lost its touch and it will take some financial injection to bring it back to life.
Meanwhile, the speculation surrounding the host country of the men’s senior flagship tournament came to end last Friday when FIBA Africa confirmed that Tunisia and Senegal will jointly host FIBA AfroBasket 2017 from September 8-16.
Initially, Congo-Brazzaville were to have hosted the event in August but withdrew due to financial constraints and the offer was then made to Angola, who turned down the challenge due to upcoming general elections.
The 16 participating teams will be divided into four groups of four in the group phase (September 8-10), with Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, hosting two groups and Tunisia’s capital city, Tunis, hosting the other two.
The top two teams from each group will advance to Tunis, which will also host the final phase (quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals) from September 14-16.
The bottom two teams from each group in the group phase will be knocked out of the competition.
The participating teams are: Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda.
Have a blessed week! firstname.lastname@example.org