Sports minister supports decision to scrap CBA, says programme served its purpose

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By Neto Baptiste

Minister of Sports and former president of the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA), Daryll Matthew, believes that the US-based Central Basketball Association (CBA) programme has served its purpose and there is no urgent need for the initiative to be continued here.

Matthew’s statement comes on the heels of news that the basketball association has decided to scrap the progamme through which Division One teams were allowed to acquire a maximum of two players via the progamme.

“I know some players have left the CBA contractual agreement so that they could come to Antigua to participate and so to have that heavy financial burden on ABABA was no longer necessary and so I understand it. I am just hoping that the funds you [ABBA] are not using for the CBA can be used in a productive way as well. Kebra did speak to me prior as to what my thought were and she mentioned that the funds were going into youth development which I think is excellent and is a great decision,” he said.

President of the basketball association, Kebra Nanton, announced recently that the programme had become a burden financially and that the body was left with no alternative but to scrap the initiative.

Matthew admitted the programme brought much excitement to the game at that highest level.

“The turnout at the games multiplied; we were getting at the time, calls almost on a daily basis of persons saying they had never heard of basketball in Antigua and where is Antigua and how can I be part of it. The popularity of the league increased but it did come at a cost and admittedly so, but at the time we took a gamble that the increased gate receipts we received should be able to cover the cost and it worked out that way,” he said.

The sports minister said also, there was a surge in participation at the youth level following the introduction of the CBA programme.

“That excitement that we were able, collectively as an executive to bring back to ABBA, had a couple of spillover positive effects. More young people wanted to play basketball, more young people wanted to get involved in basketball. This where, when George [Hughes] has his programme and Mahijah [Davis] has his programme and other folks have their programmes, all this was part of their stimulus to help them with their programmes, and that is why you have players overseas in the junior colleges and the high school level as well. These players just didn’t fall out of the sky line manor, they had to have an interest first of all, and that interest has to be stimulated somewhere and that somewhere is through ABBA,” Matthew said.

Teams competing in Division One will be allowed space on their roster for the importation of four players during the 2020 domestic season set to start later this month.

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