Basketball Federation in Idlib: One sports hall, two plans to organize the game
Enab Baladi – Hassan Ibrahim
The Directorate of Sports and Youth, affiliated with the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG), the de facto authority in Idlib province, has announced the formation of a basketball federation composed of a president and four members, according to its decision on September 24.
The founding of a new sports body in Idlib opened discussions about the reality of basketball in terms of tournaments, players, and administrators in Syria’s northern region in general and in Idlib in particular, as well as the difficulties it faces and the state of its sports facilities, and the federation’s short-term and long-term plans.
Two organizational plans
Ahmad Hassan, the president of the Basketball Federation, told Enab Baladi that the federation’s tasks include developing organizational and administrative plans to activate and enhance the level of basketball in the region and managing the game from technical and organizational aspects.
Hassan added that the federation’s initial plan is to qualify technical personnel, especially referees, and include them in the federation, as well as qualify coaches specialized in different age groups and launch a men’s basketball tournament.
He also indicated that the federation’s long-term plan aims to establish basketball training centers directly affiliated with the federation and distributed across different areas, as well as appoint specialized supervisors to oversee and manage these centers.
Hassan explained that the immediate goal of these centers is to launch a junior basketball tournament, while the strategic and long-term goal is for these centers to become a source of talent for basketball clubs in the future.
Championships not tournaments
After the opposition factions took control of Idlib in 2015, basketball activities gradually resumed, and training sessions and championships were held in a gym affiliated with the Directorate of Education in the city.
During that period, there was no basketball tournament, and there were organizations sponsoring championships in which all clubs from northern Syria participated due to the absence of an official body or sports federation, according to Ahmad Hassan.
In 2019, the Basketball Association in Northern Syria was formed. It was the first sports body to focus on basketball without any funding or support, and it included players, referees, administrators, coaches, and fans. Its first activity was the Azaz First Championship in northern Aleppo, and at that time Binnish club won the title.
Basketball was the only game in which all clubs from northern Syria, including rural Aleppo and Idlib, participated, and coordination was done between the clubs to join any championship without the presence of sports bodies in the region.
The Basketball Association in Northern Syria organized a second championship in the city of Afrin, northern Aleppo, which was also won by the Binnish club. The latest activity of the association was a championship held at the sports hall in Idlib city, which was won by the Ghuraba team, according to Hassan.
There is a basketball federation in Azaz, but the game’s activities are limited, and there is currently no activity as it does not enjoy wide popularity, according to Mahmoud Kousa, an official in the federation, as he told Enab Baladi.
According to the president of the Basketball Federation, Ahmad Hassan, there are no basketball facilities affiliated with the federation in Idlib yet, and there is a plan to rehabilitate the sports hall affiliated with the Directorate of Sports.
He mentioned that athletes play the game at the present time in the sports hall in Idlib city, which is affiliated with the Directorate of Education, pointing out that the area suffers from a lack of basketball expertise.
Hassan pointed out that the Afrin championship witnessed the presence of referees from Turkey for both male and female categories, which is a new development in the sports sector of the northern region, in coordination between the Basketball Association in Northern Syria and sports officials in Afrin.
Hassan considered the formation of a basketball federation in Idlib a positive step towards the continuity of the game and the sustainability of its activities, and if the federation receives a funding budget from the Idlib Sports Directorate, it will set an annual tournament schedule for men and young age groups.
Sports clubs in various competitions face several difficulties, the most prominent of which is the lack of financial support, which has led to other organizational problems, such as the inability to arrange transportation for clubs or provide equipment allowances.
These difficulties are added to a feeling of being marginalized by basketball clubs and players, who consider their game neglected compared to the more popular sport of football, amidst repeated demands over the years to invest in players and expertise and establish sports halls and institutions.
The winners of the championships receive “simple” in-kind prizes, according to Hassan, noting that financial problems are among the main challenges facing clubs, as well as the absence of a sports body that cares for clubs and players.
Sports in opposition-controlled areas have witnessed development, especially in terms of football facilities, after the opening of several training halls and private stadiums. Sports bodies have organized championships and sponsored a number of competitions and events, but efforts are still insufficient to meet the requirements of clubs.
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