The New Times (Kigali)

8 November 2012

Rwanda: Basketball Authorities Should Nurture Young Talent

editorial

Various media reported Ferwaba's (National basketball governing body) initial statement and it's retraction vis-à-vis the issue of naturalized players.

Ferwaba, on Wednesday, promised to stop calling-up the mainly US-based players, citing the fact that they were being paid sums of up to $15,000 per competition. On Thursday, Ferwaba modified its position, stating that if the foreign-based athletes met the selection criteria, they would be played.

Whether or not the athletes fulfill the criteria, or the amount of money being spent on the players, legitimate questions must be asked about whether Ferwaba is maximizing local resources and facilities.

Is the idea of spending thousands of dollars on individual players a good one? Especially when the basic basketball facilities nationwide are non-existent?

While it is pertinent that our national teams are given as much support as possible, we mustn't forget that, at the end of the day, sports is something that everyone should, and must, have access to.

If Ferwaba has a big-enough budget to allocate tens of thousands of dollars to our international players, well and good. However, if the national team is taking money out of programmes that could've benefitted grassroots basketball, such as those building courts and employing basketball coaches to teach young people how to play the game, then Ferwaba is defeating its purpose.

Its number one priority must remain building grassroots support for the game. If this is done, a strong national team will automatically follow. This goes for other sports federations in the country as well.

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