Central Basketball: For the love of the game
Love of the game and creating more opportunities for Samoan youth are the driving forces behind the creation of the Central Basketball Association [C.B.A.].
The new association was launched at the Lava Hotel on Wednesday night with the new President Jason Joseph saying the organisation is all about providing Apia town youth with positive activity.
“We love basketball, all my kids played basketball and this is their number one sport, they have all been national reps,” he said.
“So for us, we want to do something for the community not just for our kids but for the sake of the game and for the kids. There is no goal behind this other than building the game. We want to build the game. We want to create more opportunities for our youth.
“We don’t want our kids to keep coming into town and fight on the streets. There have been a lot of school fights so we want them to participate in sports. This is one sport that will help them rather than having them out there doing foolish things.
“That’s why we call this Street Hustle, it’s street balling. There is something on the streets that is useful, something that can capture their attention rather than sitting on the streets looking for someone to beat up.”
Sponsored by Digicel Samoa, the C.B.A. launched its 3x3 “Street Hustle” Basketball Tournament on Wednesday. A total of 16 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams with more than 100 basketball players from Upolu and Savai’i are competing.
Joseph said that they want to start identifying players who can step up and take over the association.
“We want to identify players who can go the long distance so by the time we are done, they can step up and take over,” he added.
“We are creating more opportunities for the sport. It’s just the love for the sport and a tender love for our youth. I’ve been involved with youth for more than 25 years as a leader and I am still involved with the youth…want our youth to do good in life.
“We want them to be successful, we want them to love and support their parents and their families… to walk the right path and realize their gifts and talents from God.”
The C.B.A. is one of three regional basketball associations in Samoa that come together under the umbrella of the Samoa National Basketball League. The others include the East Side Basketball Association, the Westside Basketball Association and now Central.
“We had some talks with people who are interested and are in the same [central] zone so they asked me to come and be the president so we can start something…we wanted to create a central basketball association…the main idea is we wanted to compete in the same zone to make it easier in terms of transportation,” emphasised Joseph.
“Rather than when there is a tournament far away then we all have to go there. Plus there are so many players and we have to identify who those players are and if there is just one association that association cannot cater to so many people.
“Like before, there was just one, the national association so we wanted to form an association under the main or the motherboard so everyone can have an opportunity to play and to develop.”
The C.B.A. hopes to offer athletes benefits such as scholarship opportunities, more basketball associations in the rural areas and the establishment of a basketball academy.
“There really are no actual tournaments besides rugby but not everyone plays rugby so we have to come up with other tournaments like this one,” Joseph added.
“After the launch, we had some more teams interested in joining when drew the pools, the Qualifiers 1 and 2 were the spots for any new team who wants to come in…we have already filled those in so we might have to say no to other teams because it’s too late.”
“We want to work closely with every other association so we can develop the game…next year is the Polynesian Cup and then another three years or so we have the Pacific Games. These are the kids who are feeding the national team. We can’t just do tournaments all the time and afterward they have nowhere to go.”
The President said C.B.A. is all about instilling a love of the sport for young people.
“I don’t play anymore so why should I care? For all of us it’s just for the love of the sport and our young ones. We love our young ones and we don’t want them to fall into those foolish ways and forbidden paths. Hopefully we will go a long way and hopefully with all the support from other associations and the business community we will go a long way,” Joseph reiterated.
He thanked the C.B.A. Board membership comprising Su’a Steve Schuster, David Ah Kuoi and Penisini Vaiaoga and everyone who is putting a lot of time and effort into the new association.
“We also want to thank Talalelei Pauga for allowing us to establish this with his blessings and his approval….there are lots of kids out there,” he said.
“I am sure there is raw talent out there that we need to identify. And bring them onto this platform so we can see more of our youth doing something good with their lives.
“Also [we express our] gratitude to Heavenly Father for all this – the gifts, the talents, the wisdom, the courage to do all this and for the gift of Samoa. It’s a beautiful place and we can do so much – so all the glory back to our Heavenly Father.”
The C.B.A. expressed their gratitude to their sponsors: Digicel, Denzel Catering and Services, BSL, Eveni Carruthers, TV1 Samoa and R & J Mackenzie’s.Digicel donated $10,000 to C.B.A. and will also supply in-kind donations.
The C.B.A. has already planned a community service project including making improvements to the Malaefatu playground basketball courts.
Joseph is President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Apia Samoa Central Stake and works as Language Supervisor in Pesega for the church.