By Barry Alleyne | Fri, April 27, 2012 - 12:05 AM
The chances of a third basketbrawl should be reduced significantly.
Determined to improve its image in the wake of another set of player violence, the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association (BABA) has decided to boost police presence at matches as well as provide counselling for its membership.
The first wave of change is expected from this weekend, with members of the Royal Barbados Police Force being detailed during Premier League matches at the Wildey Gymnasium, the same venue where the last two instances of basketball violence occurred.
For the rest of the season, the BABA’s schedule will also be forwarded to the District “A” Police Station, so that police would be aware of how many matches are on tap, and determine the police number needed.
The association has also contacted both Network Services and the Barbados Red Cross to provide conflict resolution classes.
In the first instance, counselling would be provided for Premier League players as a matter of urgency, but eventually filter down to the 700-plus other BABA members.
“We have also invited the players who were suspended or banned to receive counselling, since we see this as a way to improve the overall conduct of our players,” president of the BABA, Dereck Garrett, revealed yesterday.
He told the WEEKEND NATION the decision to make immediate changes came out of an emergency meeting with management of the Gymnasium. Manager of the facility, Ken Mason, said the meeting was held because of several concerns he had after the recent acts of violence.
“We discussed a number of things, and the association made it clear they would come up with a plan to improve certain things.”
The meeting was held 24 hours before the BABA meted out its post-brawl punishment, banning two players for life and suspending five others.
“We looked at a lot of things coming out of the meeting with Gymnasium officials before making these decisions and coming up with a plan,” Garrett said.
“We made a conscious decision that to decrease the risk of another incident we would also separate players and officials from spectators altogether, so that when security is provided at the court level, only players would have to be dealt with should anything occur.”
The president noted that individual chairs would no long be used for players during games, and that a single bench would be re-introduced to sidelines during Premier League matches.
Previously, fans would have been able to occupy the same area as the players, but spectators will once again have a separate entrance which will be secured by police.
The fallout from the most recent violence has kept the BABA in the news for all the wrong reasons, but according to Garrett, interest in the sport remained high, and the association would be going all-out to retain a good image as it sought corporate sponsorship into 2013.
Garrett said if there were no further incidents, the BABA could considerably repair the damage done over the next 12 months.
“We certainly cannot control what happens on the court, and if players will fight or be involvedly in physical altercations, but we expect all these changes to make a difference in reducing the risk of such an incident ever happening again.”
All changes made by the BABA will be forwarded to its membership, and to Gym management.
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