SHEFFIELD (Julio Chitunda’s African Message) - If you are one of those people wondering where next year’s AfroBasket (Men and Women) should or will take place, you are not alone. Over the course of the past few months, this has become the most recurrent question in African basketball scene.
As I write this column, none really knows - at least officially - who will host the two tournaments, although this may be clarified by the time the FIBA Africa Central board meets next month in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
But looking back at the last three decades, I fear it might be business as usual, which I feel goes against the purpose of promotion of the game. Small basketball nations need to step up and get involved.
The most obvious explanations for this to happen seems to be the popularity of the game in those countries as well as their capability of hosting the tournament.
It’s been over two decades since Kenya hosted the men’s event in 1993, before organising the the 1997 AfroBasket Women. Since then, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania have hosted FIBA Africa Zone 5 qualifiers, but not much has happened there.
Oddly enough, and judging by social media analytics, basketball seems to be booming in East Africa.
Obviously, organising a tournament of the AfroBasket magnitude involves adequate infrastructures, funding, sponsorship and dedication. And most African countries governments - President Macky Sall of Senegal has proved this theory wrong by announcing the construction of a modern sports hall in Diamniadio, on the outskirts of the capital Senegal, - are not famous for supporting non-football sporting events.
If high costs can put off minnow basketball African countries from AfroBasket tournaments, then joint-bids could be an option.
When I saw FIBA Europe attributing the hosts duties of EuroBasket 2015 to four countries - Croatia, France, Germany and Latvia -, and repeating the experience for the 2017 EuroBasket with hosts Finland, Israel, Romania and Turkey, I found the idea absolutely brilliant.
Back in 2012, Equatorial Guinea joined forces with Gabon to host the football Africa Cup of Nations, and it worked out well. So, why not try it in basketball?
Madagascar, a small country off the coast of Mozambique in the Indian Ocean, has recently become a regular hosts of African basketball championships, and I see no reason why countries such as the South Africa, Ghana, Republic of Congo, wouldn’t follow suit.