Words & Pictures by Jaime Barry in Freetown
The Sierra Leone’s National Basketball Federation (SLNBF) is organizing its annual National Basketball Championship. This is the biggest event of the SLNBF with four teams from Bo, Kenema, Makeni and Freetown. There is no date yet and no sponsors but the teams have already begun to practice.
According to Abdul Rahim Johnson, the Public Relations Officer of the SLNBF, the Western region will be organizing warm-up matches in a form of a gala in which teams will be registered. After that each player will be given a number which will guarantee her can take part in any international basketball matches or competition. This he said is a requirement from the Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA). The winning team from the gala will represent the Western Area in the championship. Bo Town has already hosted its basketball gala Makeni is just about to complete the finals of its gala. Just Kenema and Freetown have yet to host theirs.
Sierra Leone now has a team of young basketball players who are doing well both in home leagues and international levels; that is according to Ishmaila Bangura AKA Baby Jordan who is the current Secretary General of the National Basketball Federation.
“We have restructured the entire national team and have given way for young basketball players to shine. Before the national team was full of old people who are over 37 years some are even in their late forties,” Bangura said. He called on the government and people of Sierra Leone to support basketball and recognize the sport. He believes that basketball is another great way to help young people in Sierra Leone realize their potential.
Mr. Bangura also stressed on the area of corporate sponsorship. He said no company has ever sponsored a basketball event in Sierra Leone. From time Coca Cola paints the basketball lawn and draws their logo on it and those who see it assume that Coke is sponsoring the league but it isMost companies sometimes misinterpret that by thinking Coco cola is sponsoring the league.