Act now to stem the demise of basketball

The gradual demise of basketball in South Africa, especially at development level, is a cause for concern.

The gradual demise of basketball in South Africa, especially at development level, is a cause for concern.

It comes against the background of recent disturbing news about the developments at Basketball South Africa (BSA), which cannot go unchallenged anymore.

The problems at the beleaguered BSA worsened when the senior national team failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Angola last month.

Coach Flosh Ngwenya attributed their poor display to lack of support from the federation, and also accused them of failing to pay his salary on time.

It is mind-boggling that BSA still owed Ngwenya as of yesterday, despite having received just over R500000 from the National Lotteries Board for his salary.

Some of the repeated widely publicised allegations, including mismanagement of funds, have been strongly denied by BSA president Vusi Mghobhozi.

I am also concerned about the deafening silence from the portfolio committee on Sport and Recreation on this matter.

It is also surprising that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) are also keeping mum.

What makes it even more disturbing is the fact that Mghobhozi is apparently a highly influential board member of Sascoc.

This comes at a time when many sports administrators have started campaigning ahead of the Sascoc board elections next year.

Basketball was one of the fastest growing sporting codes about 10 years ago, but it has been turned into a laughing stock.

It is also worrying that there are no more development activities in this sport.

At tertiary level, there used to be the Campus Basketball League where the likes of Ngwenya, Nakedi Maputla, Lydia Monyepao and Emmarentia Ledwaba excelled as players.

Following the demise of the United Schools Sports Association of South Africa, the only development tournament now is the Engen Under-18 Cup, played over one week.

Furthermore, there are no leagues run by BSA, which must surely be a perfect entry point for the Department of Sports and Recreation to deal with BSA problems.

My submission to the government and Sascoc is to treat all codes equally, hence my call to Minister Makhenkesi Stofile and Sascoc president Moss Mashishi to act now.