The National Basketball Federation of T&T (NBFTT) has announced that it will be hosting a T&T National Basketball League (TTNBL) for men, next year.
Yesterday, in a release sent out by the NBFTT headed by Claire Mitchell, the organisation extended an invitation to basketball clubs for its inaugural League which is set to be launched in March.
According to the release: “This is an effort to make the selection process transparent and to provide an equal opportunity for all clubs. The document outlines the process by which interested clubs may apply for participation; as well as the scoring criteria upon which selection will be judged. The deadline for submission of applications is November 29, 2021.”
The document referred to was a request for Expression of Interest (EOI) to participate in the TTNBL which according to the NBFTT release is designed to promote the growth and development of basketball to achieve competitive standards.
It said, “The TTNBL will form the pinnacle of a three-tiered pyramid of leagues bound together by the pinnacle of promotion and relegation. The new competitive system for male basketball will provide a platform for athletes, coaches, and officials to improve their capacity, display their ability and maximise the opportunities presented through participation in the league and other development activities.”
Lennox Sobers, the vice president of organisation and development, whose committee according to article 28.1 (i) of the constitution is responsible for the design of programmes and activities for the implementation of the NBFTT’s strategic plan, seems to be in the dark concerning the TTNBL.
“I cannot say much as to what is happening. I cannot say because I haven’t attended the last two board meetings,” said Sobers and recommended speaking to the persons mentioned on the flyer, who was apart from Mitchell, is the general secretary Rachel Dick, Ishmael St Bryce, vice president of training and technical and the East Zone chairman Chevon Le Gendre.
Dick in response to Guardian Media Sports question about the timing of the competition which is being set in March, the same month as zonal competitions are traditionally run, according to Article 12.9 in the NBFTT Zonal Regulations: “Zonal Competitions shall start no later than March 31 in each year and end no later than August 31 in that year, said: “The time indicated on the release is in keeping with the NBFTT operational plans that were discussed and approved by the board in December 2020 - January 2021.”
She said: “Please note our operational plan was done in conjunction with FIBA. This took several months of planning by the NBFTT board.”
However, there’s no indication that the general membership of the sport was consulted before or after the Board decision was made and it appears to contradict Article 19.4 in the NBFTT constitution, under special general meetings, which states: “In each year the Board of Directors shall convene a General Meeting not later than September in that year to present to the membership the NBFTT Plans, Program of Activities and Budget for the next year.”
The initial media release from the NBFTT on the project was sent to the media on September 12, a day after its Board meeting proposing an eight club national league.
Guardian Media Sports has seen a copy of the NBFTT constitution which states in article 36.1: “No part of the Constitution or Regulations of The NBFTT shall be amended, rescinded or altered, except at the annual general meeting or a special general meeting of The NBFTT called for that purpose.”
South West Zone chairman Roger “Pele” Lewis, an NBFTT Board member questioned how can any of the above be achieved and a National League held when there has been no active competition for the past two years because of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Lewis said: “It just makes no sense as far as I have heard three of the six or eight teams are from the government services, who competes on the East-West Corridor, where are the teams from Point Fortin, from San Fernando, from Tobago? Then it’s supposed to start in March and from what I’ve heard this league will promote developments in the zone, how? Two years now, we haven’t played basketball but these people having a national league. Anyhow you try to look at it, it just doesn’t make sense.
“They are promoting development, how is that going to work? What is the age group are these teams going and play under?” asked Lewis, who admitted that he has become disenchanted with the board and has not attended meetings for some three months.
For TTNBL, teams will qualify by a scoring criteria, one of which is meeting the development activities which include women and youth teams.
In the release it was cited that: “The launch of TTNBL will satisfy critical goals of the Federation in the areas of female and youth development. Participating teams will be required to have a female coach on their bench and a youth team playing in one of the zones. Female youth teams will gain the club 15 points toward their application, while male youth teams will gain them 10 points. Clubs may also do both for a total of 25 points.”
Dick explained that there was a reason why the NBFTT did not host a women’s competition, saying: “Because we do not have enough female teams for a national level league yet. The cost would be too much for the NBFTT to afford to spend with very little results.
“Note that the TTFBL (T&T Female Basketball League) was launched for the same purpose as TTNBL, but there is a different pathway as they are at different levels of development.”
The only further information that Dick provided was that eight teams will compete in the TTNBL and “as time goes by more information will be released to the public.”
She advised: “At this stage teams are to follow the flyer information as directed.”
According to the request for EOI will be followed by a briefing and question and answer session that is scheduled for today (October 13) at 8 pm via Zoom.
It said: “There, prospective clubs will be able to ask questions and gain clarity on the expectations of the committee that will be assessing the league applications.”
For further details on the EOI process, eligible clubs may obtain further information from the secretariat of the NBFTT.
Application packages are asked to be dropped off at security booths at the Southern Regional Indoor Sports Arena in Pleasantville and the Maloney Indoor Sports Arena.
According to the EOI document: “Only clubs who have submitted the required information and paid the down payment of TT$5,000, will be eligible to undergo the pre-qualification process. The methods of payment are bank deposit or manager’s cheque. Bank deposits must be made to the NBFTT’s RBC account number 100019110184538, with deposit slips retained as proof of transaction. Managers’ cheques should be made payable to NBFTT.”