April 20, 2014

Ahmed Hafiz of Maldives appointed as president of South Asian Basketball Association (SABA)

At its recent congress in Dhaka, Bangladesh, the South Asian Basketball Association (SABA) elected Ahmed Hafiz as their new president. Hafiz is the president of the Maldives Basketball Association.

The SABA subzone of FIBA Asia consists of eight South Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The SABA congress was held during the 1st ever SABA 3x3 basketball championship in Dhaka (where India did not participate).

India's Ajay Sud - the Secretary General of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) - was elected as SABA vice president.

The congress was attended by SABA's outgoing president Ajith Kuruppu (Sri Lanka), FIBA Asia president Sheikh Saud bin Ali Al Thani and FIBA Asia Secretary General Hagop Khajirian, among others.

"This region is one of the most populuous regions and therefore provides us the opportunity to increase the support base for basketball. We all have to put our strength together and work in that direction," Sheikh Saud said.

So what does Hafiz's appointment mean for SABA? Nothing, really. In Asian basketball - particularly in South Asian basketball - the names at the top rotate among themselves while progress at the ground level is made at a snail's pace. South Asia is one of the worst basketball zones in the world, with only two of its eight countries (India and Sri Lanka) currently standing in FIBA's top
100 rankings for Men
. Plus, it looks like their official website hasn't been updated in two years. Rampant corruption (I shouldn't say rampant to be honest, because there isn't enough money in the sport in the region yet) and a lack of interest is keeping the region in the backwaters of basketball. India is generally the only SABA country that qualifies for FIBA Asia events, and despite dominating their SABA competitors, India almost always get their butts kicked against East Asian or Middle Eastern teams.

This year is big for SABA: after the 3x3 championship (which was won by hosts Bangladesh), the next major event will be the 3rd South Asian Basketball Championship, scheduled to be held in Kathmandu (Nepal). It should be a chance to see the best basketball talent of the region compete against each other and an opportunity for the new leadership of SABA to truly assist growth and promotion of the game.

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