Dr. Alain Ekra, former Ivory Coast National player, is President of FIBA Africa Zone.
At a meeting in August 2001, FIBA Africa declared that it would attempt to rebuild itself by following accepted business practices, thereby trying to keep pace with modern basketball management as practiced by other world powers. At the meeting of the FIBA-Africa Central Board in January 2002 in Hammamet, Tunisia, our representatives defined our new vision for FIBA-Africa and outlined our objectives for the development of basketball in Africa. Our goal, as we stated very clearly, is to make basketball the second most popular sport in Africa after soccer. For FIBA-Africa the main focus of development consists of the following principal elements:
1. Improvement of human resources (players, coaches, and referees), and acquiring equipment and teaching aids. We also want to increase the quality and quantity of all major competitions.
2. Enhance our leadership position. To achieve this, we hope to:
- Reorganize the global structure of FIBA-Africa by improving the administrative and communications network.
- Increase our basketball audience on the continent and thereby enhance our overall image.
- Engage in marketing strategies and seek out financial partners and sponsors to ensure adequate financing for FIBA-Africa activities.
After 18 months of concerted effort, we are much more encouraged about the future of basketball in Africa. Restructuring has now led to the following:
- The orderly and systematic training of technical personnel (team coaches, instructors for the development of coaches in the zones and national federations; development of coaches for level 1, 2, 3; instructors for the development of referees for the intermediate level in preparation for FIBA international referee status).
- The training of statisticians, basketball specific medical personnel, and technical commissioners.
- Thanks to the much appreciated s u p port of FIBA and several commercial partners and institutions, we now have access to teaching aids (technical books on basketball coaching and conditioning, and audiovisual aids) and equipment (basketballs, shotclocks, backboards, backstop units, proper playing surfaces).
In regards to the improvement of FIBA-Africa competitions, the following steps have been taken:
- Solidification of the competition calendar through 2006, with the effective participation of FIBA-Africa in the organization and promotion of all major competitions. Our financial partners will help us with media coverage and the sale of television rights.
- The organization of the competitions for all younger basketball players within the zone. The first major step entails encouraging national federations to organize annual championships in the various age-group categories. This would then permit FIBA-Africa to oversee the organization of continental competitions.
- To avoid potential major problems in organizing competitions, the African Championship (CAN) for senior men and senior women will now take place in the same year, in August (men) and December (women).
- Competition rules are currently being revised and adapted in order to increase participation and the organizing of competitions by all national federations.
The key to upgrading basketball in Africa has to do with the reorganization of the management structure of FIBA-Africa. Indeed, for practical reasons and efficiency, an administrative headquarters was created in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where the current Secretary General Dr. Alphonse Bile now resides. The headquarters are in full swing in professionalizing the personnel and fitting with the appropriate office equipment.
In our ongoing search of better promotion of basketball on the African continent, we now emphasize more use of both e-mail and faxes. We have produced FIBA Africa Spotnews, a bi-monthly newsletter, and a website is currently in production. With the help of a European television network, which broadcasts on the African continent, we are also producing a television newsmagazine to increase the popularity of basketball. Extensive coverage from the African media is now foreseen for the 2003 African Championship for Men (AfroBasket: Alexandria, Egypt in August) and for Women (AfroBasket: Maputo, Mozambique, in December).
We would like to thank FIBA for their ongoing help in our search for partners and sponsors, and the sale of television rights and marketing of all FIBA-Africa competitions. We understand that all our development objectives and the promotion of basketball in Africa can’t be achieved without the major FIBA-Africa competitions becoming financially profitable. The financial contribution from FIBA to FIBA-Africa is substantial, but can no longer remain our sole financial source. We are taking steps to become self-sufficient. Along with the assistance of various partners and media companies, we recently sold the rights to the 2003 African Championships for Men and Women. This is certainly a step in the right direction.
Bringing FIBA-Africa up to par with the other FIBA zones is an arduous task. We have a scarcity of funds and a limited access to technology. Greater creativity is needed to mobilize the financial and organizational forces at our disposal in order to organize and sustain the development and growth of basketball on the continent of Africa. We, as well as the men and women committed to this endeavor, have faith in its successful outcome.