Kenyan chiefs brewed chaos at Afrobasket

Monday, January 20th, 2020 00:00 |
Police control the crowd ahead of Saturday’s Afro-basket pre-qualifier between Kenya and South Sudan at Nyayo Gymnasium. Photo/PD/PHILIP KAMAKYA

National basketball men’s team Kenya Morans held their own against the much-fancied South Sudan to pick a 74-68 win and book a date with Senegal, Angola and Mozambique in the qualifiers.

While the players renewed fans’ faith in the sport they love, the organisers, Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF), left a lot to be desired.

Way before Saturday’s crowd trouble that saw the match between Morans and South Sudan delayed for more than two hours as KBF frantically tried to clear the playing surface off fans to the already overflowing stands, the writing on poor organisation was already on the wall.

Visiting teams expressed their displeasure about the accommodation arrangements that seemed to have been made without considering the Nairobi traffic situation.

One visiting team was unable to conduct their training on the first day as they had been booked in a hotel across town from the gymnasium and spent what was meant to be their official training time stuck in traffic.

Another one rejected the accommodation arrangements and made their won, preferring to moved to a hotel near the stadium.

To add to the players’ woes, matches on day one were played on a court with fading markings. This, however, did not go unnoticed by FIBA, the sport’s governing. 

Ticket prizes changed

Sources close to the organisers indicate that FIBA ordered for the clear marking of the playing surface, an undertaking completed on day three of the competition.

Fans too got their fair share of the shock as ticket prizes changed without any form of communication. Foreign fans were also charged differently from locals, sparking outrage. 

It was not just the squads bearing the brunt of poor organisation but the media, especially visiting journalists.

For an event of this magnitude, there was no media centre to help the press execute their job flawlessly. 

Still, scribes without official accreditations were denied access courtside on the last day of the championship despite having operated for the first four days using their respective media house’s identification cards.

“The organisation was not great. I am very disappointed that the organisers did not think about the players and fans. It should have been planned so that fans know ahead of time what was happening.

The players should have been situated better if we need them to come back. I think FIBA should challenge federations to do better in organising these events,” said South Sudan federation head Luol Deng.

The icing on the cake was the crowd trouble that resulted from ticket sales that exceeded the gymnasium capacity on Saturday.

The match was delayed for more than two hours as police resolved the situation. South Sudan tactician, Ajou Deng partly blamed the delay for their loss, saying  it disoriented his players.

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