After all the support and attention football received for their success in the World Cup qualifying games, we shouldn’t expect other tournaments or sports to take the backstage.

But the national basketball team which left the country today to take part in an international tournament didn’t receive enough support and good wishes.

The players seem dejected at the way the basketball federation handled them. Players claim that they were not paid their advance daily sustenance allowance, coaches were left out and even a complete set of basketball gear couldn’t be arranged even at the eleventh hour.

If the accusation is true (officials are denying), it is not the best way to prepare a national team to represent the country. Skill and talent are important in winning competitions. At the same time there should be mental strength buoyed by confidence. Confidence comes from support and encouragement.

We are not talking about millions of ngultrums. And going by the composition of the team, even a few thousands extra could motivate the team to at least give a good fight. Some are students without a source of income but interested in the game.

Sports is not a rich field in the country. The basic problem, sports officials often claim, is the shortage of money. Although we are seeing some improvements, our sports sector, like in other developing countries, is not in a position to develop the modern infrastructure to give sports the much-required boost. Good players cannot be retained, as there is no future in it as a career.

The sports sector survives, literally, on a shoestring budget. Football is far better because of the blessings of cash rich FIFA. Many other sports depend on the occasional basic training programme through the Olympic Solidarity Movement and other stray projects.

However, that doesn’t mean that a national team should be treated unfairly. The government had budgeted Nu 70 million for promotion of sporting events and Nu 5.24 million for participation at a regional and international sporting events. The South Asian basketball Association (SABA) zone championship is the qualification round for the 28th FIBA Asia championship for men in China this September. It is an important tournament and the national team should have got the best support, morally and financially.

There is vision to develop sports in the country and there is interest, especially among the youth. Such incidences could dampen the enthusiasm. We hope what happened to the national basketball team as a result of a one time bad coordination is not an indication that a popular sport in the country is being neglected.

Basketball has its glamour in the country. It is surprising that big business houses and commercial entities have not taken the lead in sponsoring a popular sport for advertising and public relations advantage.

A common complaint among the youth is that there are infrastructure and sponsors for sports like archery, but not for sports where youth can participate to stay ‘fit and lead a healthy life.”