23 February 2009

TANZANIA : Withdrawals hurting basketgall : Coach

By Suleiman Jongo

Failure to participate in international tournaments undermines ambitions of basketball players to become professionals, the national basketball coach said yesterday.

Saleh Zonga, a veteran basketball player who shone in the African Cup of Nations in 1974, said Tanzania has many talented players, but they cannot develop because of lack of international exposure.

He said: "The current trend of pulling out from international tournaments will kill basketball and youngsters� ambitions to become international players."

The remarks come a few days after Tanzania pulled out of Africa Zone-5 tournament, which kicks-off today in Kigali, Rwanda.It is the third consecutive year for Tanzania to pull out of international tournaments due to shortage of funds."It's very discouraging.

We selected the players and they set their minds for the event. But Tanzania withdrew eleven hours before departure," Zonga said.The coach pointed out that it would be impossible for youngsters to admire basketball or become professional players if they are not given chances to show their prowess at international events.

As Tanzania shies away, Kenya and Uganda will contend for title in the tournament.Zonga called on officials to emulate the Kenya Basketball Federation which organised fundraising events to get funds for the team."It is possible to emulate Kenya. I think our officials should learn from our neighbours," said Zonga.

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