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Guayaquil, the epicenter of Ecuador's basketball development
GUAYAQUIL (Ecuador) — The Ecuadorian Basketball Federation (FEB, for its Spanish acronym) has undergone a complete transformation after a process that began in 2013 and is still alive today. This evolution has been focused mainly on developing children to improve the first division for six or seven months and increase the number of talents for Ecuador’s national teams.
One of the pillars of the FEB was taking charge of the athletic development of young children. A new board of directors came into effect after almost 10 years of constant inconveniences, and they focused on development.
“We presented a project to start with young children a (development) process and in 2013 we held the first Mini Basketball Festival for children aged 12 years. It was a success. We had players that two years later participated in the U14 South American Championship in Argentina, where they achieved a bronze medal and from where great athletes were developed, such as Doménica Zamora, whose currently in the United States; Jilian Molina, Stefanny Narváez, Camila Illescas, Karen Cantillo, Shehawee Santamaría, Naomi Guzmán, Karla Benítez and Vanesa Ochoa, who died on March 16, a date we pronounced to be “The day of Ecuadorian basketball.”
“Although the male team didn't achieve a medal at that time, they began to stand out in several continental tournaments,” said Juan Layana, of FEB media.
Under the presidency of José Arévalo, in 2014 the FEB organized the first U13 National Tournament alongside the Mini Basketball Festival for children of up to 11 years. In 2015, the Federation was able to include the U11 and U14 categories as well.
That same year they continued their development efforts with a U-17 Tournament and a U23 League. The year after they grew, now boasting U11 through U17 categories, and for the first time ever, they organized a U20 Tournament. In 2017 basketball practices increased significantly, there were continuous categories, and the U19 was included.
The same categories prevailed in 2018 and the FEB organized a Mini Basketball Festival for nine-year-old boys and girls and a U21 Development League. And like this, Ecuadorian basketball has advanced and grown to this day, with a continuous development in formative stages to try to occupy the first places in the male and female national team tournaments to try to bring back home achievements in basketball.
“There are many things to improve and change. We've only had one U10 festival and a league for children aged 12 and 14, but there are still several leagues left until the year ends. We've always counted on the support of parents, clubs, and coaches to develop basketball, and that's very important,” said Layana to FIBA.basketball, who added: “We want to establish adult leagues to have better development in the men’s and women's leagues. We need sponsors to promote these tournaments.”
The results started to arrive. First, in the Brazilian city of Goiania in July, where the U14 national team arrived third in their corresponding South American Championship and took home the bronze.
Meanwhile, at the Abel Jiménez Parra Coliseum in Guayaquil, the Women’s U14 South American Championship took place, and the hosts arrived fifth and had the honor of having the tournament's MVP and outstanding scorer: Blanca Quiñónez, a girl of only 12 years of age and with a bright future ahead of her. She averaged 21 points per game (105 in total) and achieved more than 15 rebounds in many games. “She’s a source of pride for her country. And, surely, in the mid-run, she’ll be giving a lot to talk about around the world,” said news sources in the tournament.
El mejor baloncesto U14 de Sudamérica se vivió en Guayaquil— Baloncesto Ecuador (@FebEcuador) July 28, 2019
Gracias a todos por su valioso aporte en el desarrollo del torneo pic.twitter.com/cWOZ91WqCX
“(Players) in development stages need a mirror, (that reflects) the possibility of getting to play in a first-division league. We need to improve that. Many years ago, there weren’t all these tournaments that constantly developed players. Now they participate in many games and that helps them to improve and develop each child,” said Layana.
The FEB has also been able to develop referees thanks to the growth of formative basketball. Now, there are workshops and referee schools. Also, as part of their commitment to the long-term development of basketball federations, FIBA’s World Association of Basketball Coaches (WABC) is currently offering training from August 16 to 21 in this South American nation.
Hoy se desarrollan clases prácticas en el Curso FIBA/WABC - Quito bajo la tutoría del Instructor Luciano Martínez pic.twitter.com/yVpdPejbUe— Baloncesto Ecuador (@FebEcuador) August 17, 2019
“The (increased) number of tournaments has helped a lot in the growth and development of formative sports and has also helped to grow referee development. Time ago, they only had two or three tournaments to referee and didn’t do anything else. The female and male leagues only lasted two months. With these new tournaments, development has been for coaches, referees and players, because we all work toward a common goal — the development of basketball in our country,” said Otilio Valencia, FEB Refereeing Director, to FIBA.basketball.
Se preparan los árbitros de baloncesto para los XIV Juegos Nacionales de Menores Cuenca 2019 pic.twitter.com/yOvPTTkczI— Baloncesto Ecuador (@FebEcuador) August 20, 2019
A national workshop to update referee knowledge also took place in Guayaquil before the 24th edition of the 2019 National Youth Games in Cuenca, which will be held from September 27 to October 4.
At the head of this workshop was Otilio Valencia, who expressed his satisfaction with the good performance of the new national judges. He also pointed out that the constant work done by the FEB is bringing back results.
One example is Carlos Andrés Peralta Ortega. He was recently appointed by FIBA to be a part of the 56 referees that will attend the FIBA World Cup 2019 in China. Pedro Rivadeneira, Samanta Fiallos, and Kristian Páez have been present in South American Championships, in the U14 male and female categories, and in the U21 men’s category. Fiallos and Páez have led the finals in both categories and sexes.
“We prepare day after day. We get together once a month and work with the referees to improve many things. We established a school for aspiring referees, with 30 new judges, some of whom led the U10 Festival and others the national youth games, and they’ll be present in the U11, U13, and U15. The idea is to develop many more referees,” added Valencia.
Today, Ecuador buzzes with victories, medals and qualifications, thanks to the seed planted in Mini Basketball with parents and the constant support of the Federation that's investing in efforts for the long-run, with solid work in all categories — and thus, in the growth of all basketball sectors.