CARACAS, Venezuela, CMC – A Jamaican diplomat wants more support for the island’s senior men’s basketball outfit after the team’s performance at the recently contested FIBA Americas Championship in Venezuela.
Ambassador Sharon Weber, who is Jamaica’s diplomatic envoy in Caracas, said that the state and corporate Jamaica need to see the sport of basketball as a worthy investment.
“I think it is very important to treat the game more seriously and to allocate resources to the game, which is attracting a number of our youngsters,” she told the Observer newspaper.
“It was also very surprising to see the quality of the play because basketball is not one of the more popular games in Jamaica,” she said.
Weber was impressed with the Jamaicans resolve and despite losing six of their eight games they defeated South American powerhouses Argentina and Brazil.
“We beat Brazil and Argentina and most of the games we lost were very close. Just seeing them beating Argentina was unbelievable. These are teams that are highly regarded in the region and the Jamaica team has really done us very proud in matching the quality and beating some of the strongest teams in the region,” Weber said.
“It was excellent and I felt very, very proud. You could see the improvement of the team over the period. We started out being a little uncertain against Canada [in the opening game loss] but you could see them getting more and more confident.
“What I think is important now, given the significance of Jamaica’s performance here, is where do we go from here because obviously there is a great deal of talent in Jamaica,” said Weber.
President of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA), Ajani Williams said the Sports Development Foundation (SDF) needs to be more equitable in its allocation of funding to sporting bodies.
“Having received JMD$2 million (US$19,744) last year (from the SDF) as contribution to national teams, and having qualified for the FIBA Americas tournament after winning bronze at the CentroBasket tournament, we would have absolutely expected the SDF, commensurate to our success and sacrifices, to put aside funds for the women’s and men’s basketball teams. Instead, what we received was a letter stating we would not receive any funds because the SDF has no funds.
“I believe that the success of the development of organised sports in Jamaica will be heavily dependent on the system guiding the SDF,” Williams said.