“The International Basketball Federation has made quite a number of important changes in its way of growing basketball competitions in the future to come”, Patrick Baumann, the General Secretary at FIBA, recently said to Yutang Sports in an exclusive interview in Beijing.
In order to help many countries to be able to play at the highest level, the basketball’s governing body in the world, has changed the competition system for the World Cup and will “bring countries which typically have difficulties in reaching the highest level”. And the introduction of 3X3 basketball will help promote basketball in all countries, small or big, less developed countries, enabling all of them have a chance to play internationally with 3X3.
In the eye of Mr. Baumann, “the 3X3 helps a lot to create another community, much larger community of basketball player out there. By introducing it to the Youth Olympic Games, by having the World Championships, the World Tour, I think, we’ve given them a home, and we’ve given them a path from the playground to the top”. And “If we’re fortunate enough, we may see this become an Olympic display in Tokyo in 2020”. “If we had a chance to be at the Olympic Games, many more countries could actually, with basketball, be at the Olympic Games”. This will create enormous wave of enthusiasm around basketball across the globe, Baumann added.
3X3 basketball is a fast growing game in the world, and China is not exceptional. Mr. Baumann said “The whole province of Guang Dong is very basketball-oriented province” and awarding Guangdong the rights to organise the 3x3 Basketball World Championships “is a testimony of their basketball passion there”.
However, despite that the ability to play is there, China needs “having the right level of basketball coaches” alongside “good organization and international experience”, Baumann said. He suggested Chinese “coaches and young players need to go outside and play elsewhere to learn the style of somewhere else and come back”. “And also, it needs having a right sequence of international events to give a vision of hope for talents to really come up”. In this regard, the 3X3 basketball is another opportunity to push the development.
Besides the upcoming 3X3 World Championships, FIBA also showed its belief in China in the ability to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Baumann said China outstood in the bid partly because “China was able to show that it is growing fast and by hosting it will grow even faster in a much bigger way”. And also, “China has shown the can host events, whether it’s the Olympic Games in 2008 with the Asian Games and 2010, or the 2015 Asian Championships”, which “has probably made little difference but a very crucial difference in favour of China”.
Mr. Baumann said they’re “very pleased” to be in China in 2019 and “it’s the right moment to lift basketball to another level”. And the 2019 World Cup is a “well deserved event for China because of the popularity of the game here”. In addition, “the growth of the sporting industry (in China) makes it an incredible opportunity for many brands to associate with a world event that will beating any world record in 2019”.
Moreover, “The World Cup is not just about 16 days in 2019, it’s a 500-days journey. It leads us from now to the 2019 World Cup”, Baumann revealed. It is best basketball event in the world. “China can demonstrate it can host this event in 8 cities in 4 provinces”. More importantly, “it’s a unique opportunity for major brands in China to be associate with it and to participate in the development of basketball and developing basketball to a totally different level”. Having signed a partnership deal with Beijing Enterprises Group, FIBA is hoping more brands to continue to join them in this journey.
Mr. Baumann also took PEAK Sports, one of Chinese leading sportswear provider, as an example. PEAK, which have been partnering with FIBA since 2011, has developed from a less “known brand within the basketball community” to a known brand within the basketball community. He said PEAK “has made tremendous progress by associating itself with basketball”. The brand “has been very consistent in their strategy and have become now certainly among the upper brands in China, a leading one in basketball”.
“Whoever associates with the FIBA World Cup will have an opportunity to showcase its product. In addition, they want to associate with a positive image of the sport, and I think FIBA and basketball brings a very positive image in the sport and it brings great value to the companies it associate with. So we’re looking forward to working with many more companies now”.
Additionally, Mr Baumann also gave his advices on how to develop Chinese basketball. “I think it is more playing more regularly at international level for these younger kids, good talents they should go abroad as much as Yao Ming go to the United States came back as an incredible athlete and played for so many years for his national team. At the same time, probably the Chinese basketball league has the needs probably to give more time and space to Chinese players to play. And I think that’s a lot of work to be done for coaches to improve their skills in China, so they can train better younger kids”.
Despite that “it’s a difficult task because the country is so large”, it’s not an impossible task and “it’s something that we FIBA would like to invest a lot of time in the next four or five years leading up to 2019”. And FIBA hopes to be “able to set a framework for future generations to working and to lead China to new heights”.
“First of all, we’ll have a very close relationship with 8 cities and 4 provinces. Of course the fact of the World Cup is there and we’ll be looking at having a strong centre that will form new coaches and new players indoors. We’ll bring experts from elsewhere to China to invest time into the development of young players and into the development of coaches that’s an important part of. We’ll do a lot of efforts particularly in that area and particular aspect because we think we can bring something to China.”
Note: For readers who are based in Mainland China, you can also access the video here.
Proofread by John Devlin.