The South African women’s basketball team has withdrawn from the Afrobasket qualifier taking place in Maputo, Mozambique following a dispute between players and the association.
The SA women’s team protested by not boarding the arranged bus on their day of departure.
The national executive council (NEC) of Basketball South Africa (BSA) made an announcement early last week, saying it had received a report that made it clear that “due to Basketball SA not meeting their stipend and daily allowance deadline demand they would not board their waiting bus to Mozambique”.
According to a statement prepared by NEC member, Victor Bergman, “The NEC was left with no other choice but to take a decision not to participate in the (Afrobasket) Women’s Zonal Qualifiers Competition.”
“The NEC was left with no other choice but to take a decision not to participate in the (Afrobasket) Women’s Zonal Qualifiers Competition.”
The Afrobasket tournament is the ultimate qualifier for the FIBA World Championship.
“The other logistical issues they cited had to do with the lateness of their contracts, water, energy drinks and the medical aid kit supply,” Bergman said.
The BSA women’s team explained it differently. The players and technical team decided against travelling to Maputo, Mozambique, due to logistics and safety. The team said, in a statement, a number of events took place leading up to the day of the departure, but on the day of departure “the circus was in full flight”.
“The team had enquired about numerous other aspects that would have to be addressed on the Saturday March 4, 2017 as the team was scheduled to leave on Sunday March 5, 2017, 09:00am,” said head coach Kimati Toboti.
These included the lack of water and energy drinks bought for the tournament and no medical equipment for the physiotherapist to use. The BSA is said to have transferred a “lousy” R300 for medical equipment during the week of departure. Bergman told Wits Vuvuzela that “Basketball SA is also liable for the accommodation booking costs in Mozambique.”
“The most disappointing for us is that the women’s team’s withdrawal is affecting the team’s participation in future FIBA competitions,” said Bergman.
BSA Women’s team said, in a statement, that they are “disappointed in the President and BSA as a whole for allowing such pain and abuse to be inflicted to the team and then turn around and blame the team.”
“It’s never been about money, I mean people with serious paying jobs take unpaid leave to go on these tours and to still be content with the little they receive. We demand change, we are not asking for too much”
Three Wits Lady Bucks basketball players were among the players of the BSA team who were selected to participate in the qualifier competition.
The three ladies, Fortunate Bosega, Modiegi Mokoka and Jana Cupedo were selected to represent the country in the tournament.
Fortunate Bosega told Wits Vuvuzela that she was unable to attend the departure camp or even afford to miss two weeks of school. “So I had to pull out of the team,” she said.
Although no longer a member of the team, Bosega is supportive of the decision taken to boycott the tournament. “I just generally think that the decision taken by the technical team was for a greater cause. This should send out a clear message to the head of Basketball South Africa that we as basketball women deserve better treatment than we are receiving,” said Bosega.
“It’s never been about money, I mean people with serious paying jobs take unpaid leave to go on these tours and to still be content with the little they receive. We demand change, we are not asking for too much,” said Bosega.
But not all members share the sentiment, some were looking forward to playing on the recognised platform. “I was very upset. Lots of the ladies would still not have gone if everything was sorted out last minute but I would have still been very keen to go,” said Cupedo.“I have never played for the national team, it was my first time where it was these ladies’ third or fourth time,” said Cupedo.
Bergman said, “It was never an NEC decision not to participate, it was a withdrawal of participation which was a result of the entire team led by the technical team and captains refusing to board their bus to Mozambique to participate based on outstanding logistics.”
Wits Vuvuzela, Wits ladies basketball hopes to “Up the Bucks”. February 24, 2017.