HOOPS! with MWEMBE KAONA
IN HIS New Year’s message to the nation, President Lungu called on citizens to embrace innovation and hard work in order to achieve prosperity and unity.
With those wise words, one can deduce that the basketball fraternity ought to heed the head of State’s guiding message.
It is only through innovation and hard work that basketball can set itself on a path of prosperity and all round success.
Indeed, no nation has prospered without its people working hard to achieve their dreams therefore as much as many desire Zambian basketball to hit high heights a unified approach is cardinal.
As the new era in basketball started with the road to the 2019 FIBA basketball World Cup in its mid-term stage, it is time to put up practical solutions.
Armchair criticism and finger pointing via social media does little to promote the game which has the potential to dominate as the premier sport in the country.
The task is not for the leadership at the helm of the sport but everyone at all levels including the least regarded player.
Clubs, who own the players, must be part of the agenda through innovations such as youth academies, holiday camps and income generation ventures.
Clubs are the major stakeholders for without them, there would be no association and without an association, there would be no federation it is therefore essential that they drive the dream forward.
There should be some community involvement activities that will introduce the sport to young boys and girls in homes.
Within the club structures, we have coaches who identify talent and harness it to be blended into the teams.
Coaches should take personal responsibility to learn new technical approaches to the way the handle players in training and game time and such information is easily available in these days of internet.
Match officials, especially referees, who have been a source of discord when it comes to officiating, should sacrifice a little more than they have done by being available even when the gains are not lucrative.
Referees could do with some extra tuition and also regular revision of the official basketball rules which also can be studied through videos that have been produced by the world governing body’s technical commission.
Good officiating is a must for improved basketball standards just as poor officiating takes the standards backwards.
Meanwhile, the Copperbelt and Midlands Basketball Association leagues are underway with the season opening tournament holding in each province.
The other provinces in the Zambia Basketball Federation structures like Southern and Northern are yet to have some action going.
This year, it would be good to see some organised league basketball taking place in other provinces such as Central, Western, North-Western and Luapula.
North-Western and Western provinces in particular have great potential in terms of natural height and I call on the respective provincial sports offices to support talent identification programmes.
Have a blessed week!