The following is statement from Basketball Victoria.
Basketball Victoria would like to address the recent media reports regarding the South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association (SSANBA) National Classic.
The SSANBA National Classic and the Summer Slam are conducted by SSANBA, an independent organisation distinct from, but fully supported by, Basketball Victoria.
Basketball Victoria has provided assistance to SSANBA to support the growth of their tournaments and events since 2008.
The SSANBA National Classic is a rotational tournament and was originally scheduled to be held in Sydney this year. A decision by the SSANBA committee was made to keep the tournament in Melbourne for 2018, based on continued growth of both participants and spectators at Victorian-based tournaments. This decision came at short notice and despite attempts to fast-track the organisation of another Victorian-based event, SSANBA and other stakeholders decided the proper course was to postpone the Classic.
SSANBA organising committee member and Savannah Pride founder Mayor Chagai said Basketball Victoria’s contribution to SSANBA has been significant and appreciated the continued assistance to SSANBA over a long period.
“There has been nothing but support from Basketball Victoria – their support has been amazing,” Chagai said. “I’ve always seen the presence of Basketball Victoria and the local associations, to help us run the tournaments.
“We’ve been tasked with helping our community engage in basketball and it wasn’t only us doing it – we did it with the support of Basketball Victoria and the local associations from across the state.
“The tournament capacity has grown and SSANBA has made a strategic choice to not hold it in July 2018.
“We’ve accepted this as a responsible decision so we can put on a better tournament in the future.
“The tournament is not cancelled – the tournament is great and everyone loves it across the country and internationally and it’s something really important to us and the wider community.”
SSANBA organising committee member and Longhorns Basketball Club founder Manyang Berberi said both parties have collaborated to provide the South Sudanese community with greater opportunities on and off the court.
“SSANBA and Basketball Victoria are still working together for the best interests of basketball within the South Sudanese community,” Berberi said. “The SSANBA and other stakeholders decided to hold off on running the July tournament and do challenge matches instead.
“We are taking a break from July and want to put all the measures in place to put on another really successful event.
“70 per cent of the teams play here in Victoria and these are teams that are affiliated with Basketball Victoria and are playing in their local associations.
“SSANBA and Basketball Victoria are working well together to improve basketball within the South Sudanese community and engage with the kids.”
Basketball Victoria’s General Manager of Inclusion and Strategy Karen Pearce said our commitment to diversity, inclusion and working with community groups, such as SSANBA, highlights our strong stance on creating opportunities and access for all Victorians.
“Basketball Victoria loves working with SSANBA and assisting at the tournament,” Pearce said. “We‘ve worked hard to provide greater opportunities to all Victorians of any background or ability.
“We continually strive to work with a variety of community leaders to create a truly diverse basketball landscape, so we can continue to push for inclusivity within our sport.
“We invest in numerous inclusion programs that use basketball as a means to develop life skills and participate in positive community interaction, enabling greater social and wellbeing outcomes.”