Claire Mitchell

Claire Mitchell, president, National Basketball Federation of Trinidad and Tobago.

A transformation is taking place in local basketball and it is one aimed at taking the sport to the professional level.

National Basketball Federation of Trinidad and Tobago (NBFTT) President Claire Mitchell said the proposed National League is a first step towards realising a professional basketball league in T&T.

The NBFTT is currently inviting clubs to apply to its inaugural National Basketball League that is due to be launched in March 2022 and so far, Mitchell said the response from some of the country’s top teams has been positive.

The application process, she explained, is an attempt to make the selection process transparent and includes a scoring criteria upon which selection will be judged.

The deadline for submission of applications is November 29, 2021.

“The launch of TTNBL will satisfy critical goals of the Federation in the areas of female and youth development. Participating teams will be required to have a female coach on their bench and a youth team playing in one of the zones. Female youth teams will gain the club 15 points toward their application, while male youth teams will gain them ten points. Clubs may opt to do both for a total of 25 points,” Mitchell explained.

“The Federation’s intent is to take the lead in moving its male elite athletes to another level and narrow the gap between local and international players. The plan is to start with the inaugural league, then progress to the second edition where teams would then be able to attract and feature regional and international players.

“This new infusion would lay the groundwork for Trinidad and Tobago’s first semi-pro and eventually pro league. Every NSO who is responsible for the development of their sport in the country should aim for having a pro league; the Federation’s goal is no different,” the NBFTT president noted.

She said that while the potential tip-off is still months away, the groundwork is being laid early to ensure that there is a proper structure in place for a quality competition and to ensure that the product will be good enough to attract sponsors and fans back to the game.

“The league must provide a quality experience for the spectators and it should also help to take the players to another level where people from outside T&T will come to see them and possibly recruit them for other pro leagues. I am confident that TTO has the talent, but we have not been harnessing it properly which is what we are now trying to do,” said Mitchell.

She said the zonal competition will continue to help in the development of other players but at the same time, the advanced players will be placed in a league of their own to facilitate their personal and professional development.

“For this league, we are looking for the top teams. At the same time we are nurturing the zones. In the past we would have the National Championships where the first and second place teams from each zone would compete. What happened in that model is that the talent was sometimes skewed because you may find the teams that would place 3-6 in the North Zone would be better than the teams who place first and second from the other zones, so you will find teams from other zones getting blown away while better teams are watching from the stands.” Mitchell explained.

“What we are trying to do is to keep it competitive at all levels by placing all the top teams in divisions by themselves and that is the product we are going to nurture for them to move to the next level and give a good spectator experience locally,” she continued.

“The rest of the teams and clubs will play in their relevant zones while we move the more advanced guys out of there so they will have a more competitive pool among themselves and while a team is in the National League they must also have a development team in the zonal competition,” she added.

“It’s going to start with humble beginnings; but we want to make sure it is well done and that it grows,” Mitchell concluded.

For further details surrounding the Expression of Interest process, interested persons can call Ishmael St Bryce at 778-8825 or Chevon Le Gendre at 468-5462.

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