HOOPS! with MWEMBE KAONA
JUST a few days ago, I met one of the longest playing women players, the now retired Margaret Siame.
Siame distinguished herself as a club and national team player in a career that spanned close to three decades.
A thought that came to mind which I quickly voiced out to her was why she was not involved in basketball at least as a club or youth coach considering her wealth of experience and exposure.
Her answer did not quite surprise me although I was of the view that the restraining circumstances she outlined should be ignored for the love of the game.
Maggie, as she was fondly called, cited frustrations and lack of co-operation as some of the reasons for her keeping a distance.
In her playing career she featured from Premium Nets before they lost sponsorship and then switched to the defunct Barclays Bank womenâ€™s side before coming up with a self -sponsored outfit with her teammates which they simply called the Nets.
Some of her teammates included recently appointed womenâ€™s senior national team coach Bahati Ndumba and 1997 Commonwealth Basketball Challenge runner-up top scorer Regina Sokoni-Kapata.
Siameâ€™s sentiments are not the first I have heard from a retired player or coach. Another such person is one whose name regularly gets a mention here and that is Godfrey Mwanza.
My counsel is that such persons should not reincarnate the biblical parable of talents by tucking away their gifts and skills but step up and offer service somewhere.
If club basketball is too demanding then why not lend a hand to community or schools basketball where developing athletes will wholeheartedly appreciate what will be imparted to them.
The first half of the year on the national school calendar usually features inter schools and inter district leagues with the provincial championships taking place in the second term.
That is an area of involvement that can be taken up.
Most schools do not have qualified basketball coaches and it is in this category that the many men and women that once graced the courts with great distinction can make a positive contribution.
I draw a lot of inspiration from Joseph Chowa who has given himself to building teams from scratch even with meagre resources.
Chowa had started a womenâ€™s outfit Rim Oilers and though it wound up after almost three years of existence he did not give up but formed a young menâ€™s side in Lusaka Rockets.
FIBA national referees instructor Daniel Chawelwa started his own Livingstone Police Hookers in the late 90s and so was Olympic Youth Development Centre director Clement Chileshe who formed Ulimbe Panthers (women) and Ulimbe Raptors (men).
The harvest for the game of basketball is plenty but the labourers are few. my call here is to all those who have something to offer to step up and play a part.
HOOPS! with MWEMBE KAONA