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Momentary STANDSTILL! -Basketball Hitches In Th e Midst of Nowhere -Stakeholders Demand Big Six

Liberia’s second most popular sport, Basketball, has once again come under the spotlight as their daunting, self-created and unrealistic constraints allegedly masterminded by the governors, have never ceased to astonish its many followers despite the demand from its youthful populace.
On countless occasions, there have been claims and counterclaims relative to the poor state and obstinate approach of running the local basketball association, something which has resulted to several agitations ranging from litigation matters involving those in charge of the LBA, and a group of aggrieved but minority stakeholders.
Those litigation maneuverings as often set the stage for another throwback in the governance of the sport in Liberia, as basketball has been regarded as being on the wrong trajectory since the ascendancy of the current leadership headed by Mr. T. Rufus Anderson; and this has given rise to countless commotions thereby undermining the growth and development of the sport in Liberia.
At a point in time, basketball was regarded as one of Liberia’s promising sports with a record of attracting fleet of talented and inspiring young Liberians with the aspiration of emerging for topflight competition both on the local and international scenes.
Now, it seems that the dynamics have shifted from being a promising sport that once attracted a lot of artistic youthful talents to a home of compromising and short-circuiting the sporting career of promising young talents who continued to experience, year-in and year-out, a repeated recurrence of lack of determination from the basketball association, to improve the sport and give hope to those young, hungry and talented players.
For quite a considerable period, the LBA was seen amongst other sporting associations as the most ‘court-prone’ sporting institution, as they were regularly in the middle of a court case. Some of the actions were prompted by the very basketball stakeholders who felt aggrieved with the running of things at the LBA, and so, wanted their voices to be heard in a way of shaping the destiny of the country’s second most demanding sport. Though their actions were vehemently condemned by basketball pundits and the general public, the aggrieved stakeholders did not see anything wrong in their unjustifiable and unprofessional actions to repeatedly drag the LBA to court.
But the fight to ensure a turnaround was later defeated by the now Rufus Anderson leadership and partially abandoned by the ‘seekers’ who also felt betrayed from within their ranks, as there were some elements amongst the aggrieved party who had second thought about the approach, and thereafter, diluted the pace at which time they were accelerating in their quest for a change at the LBA.
The primary objective of the aggrieved stakeholders were unchanged, that is to infuse some fresh blood at the helm of the national basketball leadership so as to resuscitate the backwardness the sport had so endured over a quality period of time, something which later became a fruition but ended up in a classical corruption showpiece that brought the entire LBA to public ridicule for months.
Since the 2017 corruption scandal at the LBA, which pointed all fingers to the President of LBA, Mr. T. Rufus Anderson, of singlehandedly squandering over US$14,000 funds intended for basketball, it has taken forever to rekindle the spirit the game once enjoyed. Anderson was accused by his former deputy for administration, Edwin Fahnbulleh, of collecting and using basketball’s allotment to finance his (Anderson) District #15 representative bid, a claim the LBA boss had rubbished as false and misleading.
As embarrassing as the news was, basketball again suffered another turbulence at the hands of its owned for quite a considerable period, as players, coaches and team owners could no longer hold back in expressing their whooping frustration over the wanton disregard for the state of basketball in Liberia. That period witnessed a visually ghosted Sports Commission, the home of LBA, as the governors and caretakers were nowhere to provide answers to the influx of inquiries as to the status of game.
Traditionally, the LBA national league commences during the dry season so as to make use of the open-air sports commission on Broad Street. But owing to the lack of financial inflow to buttress what government usually allot to the association, the local basketball house dragged until the league started in the rainy season, a decision that was seriously contested by stakeholders. The stakeholders argued that the timing of the league was unrealistic given that the LBA has no jurisdiction over an indoor facility that could host the continuation of the league in the case of rain.
Though their contestation was valid, the LBA could not promise an immediate remedy until itself was confronted with the constraint. As a way of allaying the fear of rain, the LBA informed its many followers that they were working closely with the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) to ensure that the indoor basketball gymnasium currently situated at the SKD Sports Complex in paynesville be completed and ready to assist in the continuation of the LBA’s national league.
The LBA also indicated that it had assisted the MYS by lending all the support to include meeting with the contractors and making regular checkups to the facility as a way of monitoring the progress of the renovation work. No doubt, the renovation work started on a rather impressive pace as the contractors were seen regularly around the facility ensuring that the work is completed within time. But the pace of work later dropped as the contractor failed to show-up regularly despite concerns raised by the Ministry over some technical issues that were expected to be observed by the contractor.
The MYS had earlier disclosed that the contractor was selected in collaboration with the LBA, meaning that the current leadership of the basketball association are in the full knowledge of how the contractor landed the SKD indoor gym’s contract, and so, any possible technical constraint on the part of the contractor will be laid at the foot of the LBA because accordingly, ‘it was the contractor they recommended.’
For the past months, the LBA has been finding it so difficult to continue its 2019 Orange sponsored National League owing to the rain. The LBA is also struggling to finalize arrangement over the hiring of an indoor facility as there are rumors that the association has ran out of funding especially so when the Orange GSM US$20,000 sponsorship money has been exhausted.
An insider at the LBA who spoke on anonymity hinted that the LBA was overly relaxed over the possibility that the indoor gym at the SKD would have finished within time to host the continuation of the 2019 National League. “We knew that the rain was a possible embarrassment but there was a surety that the gym had completed and turnover to us for the continuation of the league,” the insider added. Even the MYS was optimistic about the timely renovation of the indoor gym.
In 2018 when the ministry announced the commencement of renovation works on the indoor gym, MYS boss D. Zeogar Wilson said, the work was expected to end in January 2019, and that it will be opened to both the public and the LBA. “The ongoing renovation of the indoor court will now allow basketball fans to watch their favorite sports even during rainfall,” the MYS boss added.
But the latest news from the renovation site will be greeted as a complete shock to the LBA and its quest to continue the 2019 League especially in an elections year.
Deputy Sports Minister, G. Andy Quamie said: “yes, I can confirm that ongoing renovation works at the SKD Sports Complex indoor gymnasium has been halted. The ministry owes the contractor and it is all due to the current economic constraint.”
“Other areas of the gym are completed. It is only left with the wooden floor. So, as soon as we get some funding, the contractor will get the balance and he will complete the wooden floor. I am not sure when but we are working on it,” Deputy Minister Quamie disclosed.
The renovation of the gym is a government’s sponsored initiative intended to buttress the growth and development of basketball in Liberia.
The minister’s revelation definitely comes as a slap in the face of the LBA as they have postponed several called meetings intended to provide the way forward on the already stalled big six component of the Orange GSM sponsored 2019 National League.
LBA Secretary General, Allen Goodridge also confessed that everything is at a standstill for now. “The LBA is looking at the possibility of renting an indoor gym so as to allow us continue the league,” SG Goodridge added.
The LBA SG also promised to provide update of any emerging clue on the continuation of the league, as he said ‘there is nothing concrete yet.’
LBA administration continued to come under criticism for delay in the resumption of the league big six competition as stakeholders have described such delay as a complete setback for their players in the area of international competitions.
Some stakeholders are demanding the LBA to provide immediate solution to what they referred to as self-created constraints. They have attributed the current problem to the stubbornness of the LBA to heel to calls from stakeholders over the unnecessary delay in the commencement of the league. “We are spending money on practices, players’ transportation and other things.It is becoming stressful for us as stakeholders,” the stakeholders added. Writes D. Webster Cassell, cell# 0778924412, email:

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