By Ben Ahenda
Tanzania’s boys’ basketball champions, Iyunga, have complained over the way their Pool B preliminary match of the Brookside East African Secondary Schools Games in Nakuru against Maseno School was handled, citing biased officiating.
The players, who spoke to FeverPitch on condition of anonymity, said they lost to Maseno technically but the margin of loss could have been narrow had stringent rules been followed by match officials.
"We lost but the margin could have been narrow had match officials followed the rules strictly," the enraged students said.
The students admitted Maseno School were technically superior but appealed to officials to assign impartial referees in forthcoming matches as the competition enters a crucial stage. Maseno won the one-sided match 81-32 at Menengai High School on Tuesday morning.
Maseno are grouped in Pool ‘B’ with Rugunga of Rwanda, Uganda’s Cranes, Kenya’s Friends School Kamusinga, Iyunga and Nyuki from Zanzibar.
However, East Africa Secondary Schools Games Secretary General David Ngugi dismissed the claims, saying they only deal with qualified referees of international standards.
"Most of the referees officiating here are of international standards as we cannot compromise standards," he said at Nakuru High School, yesterday.
Investigations revealed that most Kenyan referees officiating at the competition were those from Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF).
Ngugi pointed out that standards of basketball in the country are high compared to the region and said this would not be possible with unqualified referees.
Similar sentiments were expressed by the games’ vice president, Barnabas Kitilit, who said the organisation and officiating at the games wer above board.
Kitilit reiterated the association’s wish to see the region achieve the best standards in all disciplines.
Investigations have also revealed that all teams were allowed to bring own referees from their countries of origin to assist with the technical aspect of the games, but Iyunga did not do this. Participating teams were to cater for their accommodation and transport expenses for their stay in Kenya.
Another Tanzanian team in boys’ basketball is Makongo, who are in Pool ‘A’ with Kenya’s Laiser Hill Academy, St Michael of Uganda, Nairobi International School and Bentiu from Southern Sudan.
A total of seven countries are taking part in the eight-day sports extravaganza. They are hosts Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan and Zanzibar.