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29/08/2017
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FIBA Africa President Niang upbeat about game's growth across region

BAMAKO (FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017) - FIBA Africa President and FIBA Vice-President Hamane Niang was on hand to witness Nigeria being crowned FIBA AfroBasket Women 2017 champions on Sunday night in Bamako, Mali.

He took time to speak to FIBA.basketball to reflect on the tournament, look ahead to FIBA AfroBasket 2017 and generally share his thoughts on the state of the game on the African continent.

FIBA Women's AfroBasket 2017 just concluded in Bamako, Mali, on Sunday. Can you share your thoughts on the tournament?
During the draw, I had said that Mali is a country that has the required potential and expertise to organize this type of competition. Mali's Basketball Federation and the Local Organizing Committee succeeded in this big challenge and I am honoured because FIBA Africa made the right choice. This is also the opportunity for me to congratulate Nigeria for winning a third continental title and Senegal and Mali for finishing second and third respectively. Nigeria and Senegal will represent Africa at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup taking place in Spain from September 22-30, 2018. I wish them all the best and much success.

"Mali's Basketball Federation and the Local Organizing Committee succeeded in this big challenge and I am honoured because FIBA Africa made the right choice." NiangNiang

What are your thoughts on the importance of organizing and promoting women's competitions?
Women's basketball is of huge importance to us. For a number of years now, FIBA Africa has had a strong commitment in the development and promotion of women's competitions. And we can see today that there is a levelling out between different countries. It remains true that efforts have to be made in certain zones across the continent and in fact that is the reason why we need more competitions - in order to boost our women's game. This will also enable our fans to keep supporting our different development programs as well as to offer career plans for young women.

FIBA AfroBasket 2017 tips off in a few days. What can you tell us about the tournament?
This year we will witness a huge innovation on the continent as, for the first time ever, FIBA Africa's flagship competition will be co-hosted by Senegal and Tunisia. The Group Phase will take place in Dakar and Tunis and teams will then move on to Tunis for the Final Phase.

I am very confident everything will work out well because Senegal is a basketball country. I know there will be a huge following for all of the action and that passion will be on display in the Marius Ndiaye stadium - as was the case during the Zone 2 Qualifiers back in March.

Two years ago, Tunisia hosted the competition and set the bar extremely high with a beautiful 12,000-seat venue and extraordinary spectators. Therefore we have no doubt about Tunisia's abilities to replicate this type of organization and atmosphere.

We can look forward to having a wonderful event hosted in two cities and a high competition level.

"During the six windows (as part of FIBA's new competition system), all teams will play some of their games at home. I think this will strengthen the passion and interest for national team basketball and help grow our sport's popularity." NiangNiang

The 16 countries set to play at FIBA AfroBasket 2017 will then compete in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers. What do you make of FIBA's new competition system and calendar?
This is a great initiative that enables 80 countries worldwide to compete for the chance of playing in FIBA's flagship competition in China in 2019. In order for this project to be successful, a strategy was carefully thought out and implemented, starting with site visits in countries and territories that are members of FIBA. A number of workshops focusing on marketing and communication were then held in order to assist these national federations.

Following that set-up phase, we are now entering a more practical one which consists of organizing and hosting the official games, starting in November. In the case of Africa, we will start out with tournaments before switching to home and away games. It's important to point out that all games will be played simultaneously across the world, which is highly beneficial for the visibility of our athletes.

During the six windows, all teams will play some of their games at home. I think this will strengthen the passion and interest for national team basketball and help grow our sport's popularity. This is why I fully support this initiative which must get the backing of all basketball stakeholders.

"In order for FIBA to achieve its full potential, there must be adequate human resources in every national federation. I think this message is clear across the African continent and this will drive us to achieve more success in years to come." NiangNiang

You have been FIBA Africa President for three years now. How do you view the development that national federations have undergone in the region?
Governments put in a lot of effort in providing financial and/or logistical support to our national member federations. This plays a big part in the significant progress we have witnessed in a number of countries. But I think our national federations still need more support and working with us when it comes to strengthening the administration of basketball. This is why we must assist them in matters of restructuring and training staff.

For a number of years, FIBA Africa has organized training for coaches and referees. We must now make a concerted effort of training administrative staff in our national federations.

FIBA is bringing together all of basketball's stakeholders into one family. As such, it makes sense for there to be a coherent management system in all regions and to make adjustments to suit certain situations.

In order for FIBA to achieve its full potential, there must be adequate human resources in every national federation. I think this message is clear across the African continent and this will drive us to achieve more success in years to come.

As well as investing in the harmonious development of traditional basketball, our national federations must also get more involved in the promotion of 3x3, which has become a part of our sport's program in the Olympics.

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