BRUNEI - Brunei will no longer be the only Asian country without an International Basketball Association (FIBA) referee after two Bruneians left for Singapore to sit for the FIBA Asia Commissioners and Referees Clinic yesterday.
Brunei Basketball Association (BBA) referees Ong Boon Biau and Ang Ting Hin will be aiming to become internationally recognised referees during the three-day clinic which starts today, and they will be joined by BBA secretary Wira Pori and Khoo Eng Cheong and Ho Poh San, who will be sitting for the commissioners' course.
The referees clinic will be held over the first two days while the commissioners - who are charged with managing tournament committees - will be sitting for the course over the three days.
The delegation's stay in the island-city will also help BBA network with other associations in the region, many of whom are sending representatives as well.
The trip is long overdue considering that other sports - football and sepak takraw to name two - have international referees.
There is no denying that the trip is instigated by the visit of FIBA Sports Director of Sport and Eligibility, Lubomir Kotleba, to Brunei last November - a visit which proved to be an eye-opener to BBA and the local basketball fraternity.
Kotleba questioned why FIBA tournaments were not organised in the Sultanate and admonished the association for not sending the national team to international FIBA tournaments in years. BBA's apparent lack of interest in sourcing for sponsorship and its failure to respond to FIBA letters - such as for the 2010 FIBA Congress, where the Sultanate was the only absentee - was also brought to light.
It was during the visit that the FIBA executive pointed out that Brunei is the only Asian country without a FIBA-certified referee. FIBA has 212 members, and seven of them have no FIBA-certified referees.
Brunei, though, won't be on that list for long.
"Right now there are no FIBA referees in Brunei, so that is our trip's mission - to change that," said Wira before leaving yesterday.
"This trip came from the meeting we had with Lubomir Kotleba last year ... We have to standardise all BBA personnel to FIBA standards.
"BBA are paying for all the expenses because we want to prove we are serious about changing.
"BBA was at a slump and that (Kotleba's visit) was a wake-up call.
"What's important now is that we're moving forward and we hope there will be change.
"This isn't the 80s anymore."