Basketball New Zealand chief executive Iain Potter is trying to bounce back from the disappointment of Tuesday's high performance funding cut. He talks to Sam Worthington about where to now for the sport.
Q) I guess it's back to the drawing board now?
A) That's right, there's not much choice so we're trying to be pragmatic. We've got no money now and we can wail and moan but at the end of the day we've got no budget for the Tall Blacks or the Tall Ferns and if we want national representative sides we're going to have to work out how we're going to have them.
Q) High Performance Sport New Zealand's criteria seems pretty tough considering basketball is the world's second biggest sport?
A) It is a global sport and it's unrealistic for us to really be competitive in that top-three or top-six category so we're not recognised as suitable for support in that high performance space. But their investment is to buy wins and buy medals and buy outcomes. It doesn't matter whether you compete in a sport where there are only four other realistic participants or in our case 100-plus. That's a logical investment policy if your outcomes are we simply want those wins. But it leaves us floundering somewhat because you've got to have an aspirational pathway. But that's not High Performance Sport's role.
Q) Have you had any feedback from Nenad Vucinic [Tall Blacks coach] or the players?
A) Nenad's quite hard to get hold of at the moment because he's coaching in China and sometimes there's an internet connection, sometimes there isn't. So I haven't heard from him directly but I've talked to the manager and also the women's coach, Kennedy [Kereama]. On the whole just disappointed, bugger, what next sort of thing.
Q) So as it stands there is no international programme next year?
A) No we've got to look at options and see what people are up for. It's difficult because other sports participate in World Cups and then share in the profit. Like football, cricket, rugby league, there are profit share arrangements. We don't have the commercial credibility or might behind us yet that some of those other sports have as well. So there's a lot of chicken and eggs in the way this works.
Q) So you'll have to focus your attentions on building from the grass roots now?
A) Basketball's going through a regeneration and we're tidying it up. We've got a plan so it's a lot more coherent in the participation space. The irony is that more and more kids and young people are playing basketball all the time. You only need to look at Sport New Zealand's own statistics. And then you've got the Breakers, who are one of the most successful sporting franchises in New Zealand. We've got that elite part of the game happening on our own back door.
Q) Is there any money at all in the coffers?
A) We have nothing in the coffers. Basketball isn't a financially flush sport. We've got some ideas but we're building off a base of zero and we don't have anything to put into the high performance space. Any money we put into it, we're going to have to find. We really need $500,000 a year as a base to have an international men's and women's team that are playing a number of games. That excludes any payment for the players, it assumes they're just playing for the joy of wearing a black singlet. So if you know of anyone who's got a lazy $500,000...
- The Dominion Post
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