Secretary General of FIBAAsia Yeoh Choo Hock during his recent visit to Coffs Harbour and the FIBAOceania offices.
Secretary General of FIBAAsia Yeoh Choo Hock during his recent visit to Coffs Harbour and the FIBAOceania offices.

FIBA Asia impressed


A VISIT to Coffs Harbour by the Secretary General of the FIBA Asia region is further proof of the increasing interaction between Asia and Oceania over recent years.

After two days of meetings in Sydney, Dato Yeoh Choo Hock made his first visit to Coffs Harbour and admits that he's not only impressed with the work of his Oceania counterpart Steve Smith but also the basketball facilities in the town.

"I think it's great," Yeoh said in credit of basketball in Coffs Harbour.

"Yesterday we managed to talk to the people at the stadium a little bit and although this is a small community, what they are doing with the resources that they have, I think they're doing a great job.

"The people are sincere and that is important.

"Coffs Harbour people have a passion for the game and a passion for the sports."

Yeoh was in Coffs Harbour for a couple of days to share ideas on the Secretary General's role in each region but he admits that his visit was also of a much more personal nature.

"I'm here also to visit my good friend, actually I have been invited by him for almost 10 years," he said.

"Steve made the arrangement for me to come up from Sydney so I had no choice."

Being in the Coffs Harbour region has also allowed the Dato a rare chance to have a close look at the machinations of the Oceania office and pick out the best bits of the local operation to take home to try and implement in his office.

"Looking on the whole scenario of our regions, I'm in charge of FIBA Asia which has 44 countries, Steve is in charge of Oceania and it's 21 countries but the scenario is totally different.

"I believe that after two days of really sitting in his office and seeing what's been done rather than always having to meet at a meeting, we have had time to really go into details of things.

"Steve Smith is doing a great job in Oceania basketball."

Smith is honoured that Yeoh holds his work in such high regard but admits that the information sharing hasn't all been one-way traffic.

"He's been here and we've had a look at his ideas and we've actually talked about some of my staff maybe later in the year or early next year going up to Asia and helping run some administrative courses.

"I think Yeoh acknowledges that we do a very good job of administration down in our area and he could use some of that expertise.

"On the same token we'd like to pinch a few of his ideas on marketing because the marketing and commercialisation of basketball in Asia is very well advanced.

"There's lots of money in basketball which is basically on the back of television because basketball's a big television sport in Asia, which it isn't here."

Asia is set to be the focus of world basketball in the next couple of years.

Next year the men's world championships are being played in Japan, in 2007 the junior men's championships will be held in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur which is Yeoh's home town and of course the next Olympics are being held in Beijing in 2008.

"I think it's a good move because everybody is focusing on Asia and especially with China and India taking up two thirds of the world's population," Yeoh explained.

"In China, basketball is the key sport there.

"Way back in '97, there was a survey done in Newsweek magazine that basketball had jumped to number one in terms of participation in Asia and that helps us a lot in terms in marketing and so on."

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