DEAF Basketball, a subsidiary of Deaf Sports of TT (DSTT), will now be recognised and its events sanctioned by the National Basketball Federation of TT (NBFTT) after a decision was made by the federation to officially incorporate the body at its annual general meeting (AGM) and election of officers last weekend.
“We are the first federation to have a deaf basketball member in the Caribbean,” beamed former NBFTT general secretary Claire Mitchell, who was elected president over Mario Davis during last Saturday’s AGM.
“They actually had a national team that was supposed to go out (to compete) in 2016,” Mitchell said, adding that internal issues within the NBFTT were responsible for delays in the association’s recognition.
Mitchell was referring to the Pan American Deaf Sports Organisation (PANAMDES) Deaf Basketball Regional Tournament in Maryland, USA, which took place in July, 2016.
A group of players were selected and were in training for the event but logistical issues ultimately prevented the team from competing.
“We actually worked with them to have them recognised by the Deaf International Basketball Federation (DIBF)... So we’ve had them on the table to try to get them in (the NBFTT) but with all the disruptions with people keeping meetings back (there were further delays),” she said.
DSTT is a non-profit organisation, which was established under another name, Sports Organisation for the Hearing Impaired, in 2011. DSTT applied and was accepted as a member of the DIBF in 2016.
“It needed to happen at an AGM where they would be accepted as an affiliate member. So Saturday’s AGM was it. They were so proud,” Mitchell added.
DSTT is led by its 32-year-old president Valdano Tobias, who keenly welcomed the move. “As DSTT president, I am glad to join NBFTT because we believe we come together as a team to develop deaf basketball by using their knowledge, understanding and skills in basketball,” Tobias wrote in an online interview.
Tobias was the first president of DSTT. He also served as secretary of the organisation before retaking the role as president once again.
A deaf basketball player himself, Tobias said it is crucial players of all backgrounds and abilities be afforded opportunities to grow and display their talents.
“(It is) very important for deaf players to excel at sports because they can (be) able to play normal, the same as hearing players in any sport. We just lose ears only. We have strong arms and legs,” he said.
Organised basketball for deaf players and those with hearing problems is one of several sporting disciplines administered by DSTT since 2010.
In 2017, a separate entity, the Deaf Basketball Association (DBA) was created. The DBA has its own league but cooperates with DSTT to host other tournaments.