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The birth of basketball in Fiji

Emoni Narawa
Saturday, January 25, 2014

BASKETBALL is one of the minor sports that is trying to breathe steadily, considering the development and structure of the association. It maybe more than 40-years old, however, the sport needs lots of upgrading and is still trying to settle on both legs. Times Sport wants to take you down memory lane, reminiscing on some of Fiji's basketball highlights. Today's Blast from the Past focuses on how basketball started in the country.

The first basketball game

Basketball was never played by natives until 1958. The sport is commonly played by the Chinese in Suva at Gordon Street, where the Fijian Holding Limited building is built now.

It was in 1958, the first association — the Suva Basketball Association was formed. The locals learnt the game from the Chinese and now most locals have mastered the sport, gradually.

The first association

Suva Basketball is the pioneer association in Fiji. Founded in 1958, Suva produced Fiji reps who represented Fiji at the 1963 South Pacific Games was held in Suva, where Fiji won the gold medal. The first indoor court was built in Taveuni but it was not used for the purpose until now. Lautoka was the second association formed in Fiji. In 1964, it moved to Taveuni then to Vatukoula in 1965, it was introduced in Nadi in 1966 before the Fiji Indoor Basketball Association was formed. Its name changed to Fiji Basketball Association before it was recently changed to Basketball Fiji in the new millennium.

The late Peter Seeto is the founder of basketball in Fiji, he was also the first president. The late John Foster was the second while Hillary Pickering was one of the committee members of the pioneer office bearers for the association.

Overseas teams

UGLA basketball club from Auckland, New Zealand was the first overseas team to tour the country for five years in a row. Then the Police club from New South Wales, Australia, toured the country for three years in a row, competing against local clubs. Namoli was a force to reckon with in domestic competition and led by power shooter Apolosi Tora, Namoli club represented Lautoka in the national championship and scooped the title.

At that time, Lautoka sent its best club to represent the Sugar City side against other districts.

Former Basketball Fiji president Fred Caine who supplied all the information to Times Sport said looking at all the pictures brought back fond memories of how the sport started in Fiji. He said it was a privilege to be part of the development of the sport during those days.

"I love looking at these pictures because it brings back those good old times where we enjoyed playing basketball," he said.

Caine wished that basketball could be revived like it used to be in the late 1950s.

"It is sad that basketball is not very popular despite being more than 40 years.

It is a minor sport but I believe more could be done to further develop the sport and bring back that stiff competition that it's known for in the past decades."

Next week - Times Sport brings you the first national team.

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