What if KECOSO ran the KBF League? Would it be so much competitive and return the hype of its lost glory? When NSSF had a foreigner as Head Coach? When USIU had a foreigner as head coach with 4 high octane international players? When KCB Lions had international big men who made Ulinzi Warriors display some of the best local low post plays under the wisest point guards?
When COOP had the most swagged out marine big man ad team that made their former players not miss a COOP game and all we could be told is how great a player the were? Would USIU Flames force the women’s basketball league to grow and move to greater heights out of being challenged by a collection of young hard working international and local female student players returning to the finals year after year?
Would UGANDA stop embarrassing KENYA the once dominant basketball nation in the region at National Team/ College/ High School competitions (whose league is competitively growing because of Kenyan exports from Coaches to Players). Would we have retained some of the most proactive and progressive coaches like Coach Cliff Owuor?
Would teams invest more in growth and development of performance programs instead of introducing policies that are great but in the wrong context because foreign players only add one thing to the league – sugar and spice. They are not highly paid than local players (that is if there is a team that claims it is fully professional or even semi pro like “Uganda”). They are good yet not so outstanding that they take the limelight from Kenyan players (watch American Players playing China League and you will see how it is damaging local growth, Kenya is not at this level).
Point is, I still do not get the rationale behind the foreigners policy? I feel it is good but in the wrong context and time. Players in Kenya play for pride and to match up to challenges on court. When Strathmore plays USIU both at League and College level locally and regional meets, they do not play against more than 2 foreign players! they match up to the intensity, skill level, and style of play. The rivalry has remained for over 7 years. And this has helped Strathmore Teams grow very fast. The only university team that brings the most revenue to KBF and yes! that is guaranteed income because university teams do not default. Someone please help me understand, is it the players, the coaches, or the NF? who is so scared of challenges. I do not think coaches play foreign players as favors but out of merit and local players who match up have taken their spot. No one scores like Griffin Ligare No one stops the signature fade away by Dennis Achiego Opiyo Dikembe No one holds court than Samba and who can still shoot crazy than Ancet Sam? What of young bloods like Merab Ching Ching Georgia?
And Cliff would still hold court as point guard if he returned to the local league. One thing we forget, the league has become less attractive even to our very own exports. Remember when they were all on holiday and played for their local teams or the National Team! today they check in incognito for holiday and go back to grace foreign leagues. What is the strategy behind this? And please do not be the fool who will say, FIBA Rules! No we rule, we are the ones who play without change of sneakers, train without pay, play without pay, get used for Sponsorship negotiations that come and go even after we give them media exposure without any returns to the actors, not even as “extras”.
FIBA Guides, but we rule! We cannot afford to apply things across the board and FIBA has clearly stated that in some clauses, the national federation can decide what fits their context. Spain/Chile/France/Greece/Lithuania/Italy these are highly competitive and top rated countries. They have great youth programs that make it so competitive locally that regulations that will make it possible for all players to gain exposure by merit is needed. They pay even at the lowest division.
We do not even have a transition national league for great high school players. You seriously want to match up a high school hero with Bos Ire? He will go from hero to zero in no time. By the time he matches up with electric basketball will become better on PS or XBox than live on court. Anyway, only progressive and developmental minds will understand the flow of this post. If you do not please be smart not to respond. This is real talk, not facebook time busting! I feel I missed watching KECOSO this year seems to have been a blast than any other. Someone please speak, ‘m listening…
Basketball development resource person and founder, All.One Basketball Academy.