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May 28, 2020

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CLAIRE Mitchell will lead the National Basketball Federation of TT (NBFTT) for the term 2019-2023, after her 12-10 election victory over her only challenger Mario Davis at the federation's annual general meeting (AGM) at the National Racquet Centre, Tacarigua, on Saturday.

Prior to the election, Mitchell held a dual post as general secretary and interim president of the NBFTT for almost three years. She took over as president following the resignation of former chief Garvin Warwick in January 2016.

Rachel Dick, who gathered 16 votes to Serbian Milan Stamenkovic's six votes, is the new general secretary.

Mitchell said she expects her resilience during her tenure at the federation to bear fruit during the current term.

"The resignations during the last term did cause (administrative) problems," Mitchell said in an interview yesterday.

She added, "But the root of the problem was not in the resignations. The root of the problems was what was causing the resignations. So we had really good people who are specialists in their fields. The VP finance was an accountant; the VP marketing was a marketing person; and they were not players, they were administrators that had the strengths to do what was expected of them. But there were other forces within the federation that made them opt to leave. Because when you're a volunteer and things start affecting your personal life and your job as a volunteer, often times a volunteer might choose to not be a volunteer any more if they want that problem to go away.

"I'm the only one that stayed for my time because I realised that every time we have a turnover the people who came in did not have the capacity to deal with the same old problems. So the same old problems prevailed and it kept running people. But when the people who get used to it and have an idea how to deal with it, if we stay and stick with it, we will reach a solution. But if every time we ran away...basketball is set back a few years.

"I believe they (newly elected officers) will last their whole term because much of what plagued the federation in the first four years when we came in is now out. And I think that's where my strength came in."

There are normally 23 votes which comprise one from the Basketball Coaches' Association of TT, the Association of Basketball Officials of TT and Secondary Schools Basketball Association, as well as the respective compliant zones, which are represented by five voting delegates each. However, only 22 votes were valid for the election.

Other than Mitchell and Dick, the new slate of officials comprises: Lennox Sobers (vice-president ­– organisation and development); Kieron McDougall (vice-president – finance; Kerry Celestine (vice-president – technical and training services); Stefan Dillon (vice-president marketing and communication); and Sharon Castanada (assistant secretary). The newly-elected chairmen for their respective zones are: Strisand Murray (Tobago), Alexis Brown (North Zone), Chevon LeGendre (East Zone) and Roger Lewis (South West Zone).

McDougall and Dillon ran unopposed, while Celestine defeated Ralph Henry 20-2 to claim the vice-president's post.

Castanada challenged both posts of vice-president – organisation and development, and assistant secretary. Castanada lost 12-10 to Sobers in the vote for vice-president, but would still celebrate an elected position. She ran against Kern George for assistant secretary but both received 11 votes each. George received a standing ovation as he graciously withdrew, allowing Castanada to claim the post.

Among the highlights of the AGM was the election of three representatives from Tobago, namely McDougall, Celestine and Murray, which Mitchell said is a historic feat which augurs well for the development of zonal and national basketball.