THE Basketball Union of Zimbabwe has withdrawn from this year’s Under-18 women’s AfroBasket Championships in Egypt after failing to raise US$65 000 needed for the trip. By Tinashe Kusema
“It is indeed a sad situation that we will not be sending our team to Egypt, and have since been forced to withdraw from this year’s edition,” said BUZ secretary-general Joe Mujuru.
“Unfortunately, we dried up our coffers when we held the tournament’s qualifiers and have since spent the last couple of months trying to source some sort of sponsorship both from the corporate world and Government through the Sports and Recreation Commission.
“However, due to the prevailing economic circumstances, and cash shortages, both avenues have not been forthcoming and as such we will not be sending our team to Egypt.”
This is not the first time in recent history that the association has failed to send a team to international junior competitions, leading some to accuse BUZ of sleeping at the wheel.
Zimbabwe failed to attend last year’s Under-16 boys and girls AfroBasket Championship held in Madagascar and Mali respectively.
Only last month, the association failed to send a team to the Under-18 Boys Championships in Rwanda.
However, Mujuru insists the problem is bigger than BUZ.
“Well, yes I have heard the things that people, within basketball circles and those outside, have been saying and I couldn’t disagree more,” he said. “First, unlike most sporting disciplines in the country, we do not get grants from our parent body, the Federation of International Basketball Associations.
In fact, the way the federation is running the sport makes it very hard for smaller association like us to survive.
“We have no control over the time Fiba Africa releases venues and dates for these tournaments and as such we usually don’t have enough time to properly source sponsorship.
“Another factor is that when a nation hosts tournaments or qualifiers, like the one we did a couple months, there is fee that is required to be paid yet in rugby for instance you get some financial assistance from the world body.”
The Under-18 women’s AfroBasket Championships are scheduled for August 26-September 4, with at least eight countries expected to participate.