Arcadia drive Zim basketball revival


HARARE – It is in rugby that Clint Joseph (known in showbiz circles as Clint Robinson) represented his country with distinction, but the 10-times capped Sables loose-head prop is now the driving force behind a very ambitious mission to breathe life back into Zimbabwean basketball – using his boyhood club Arcadia Bucs as catalyst. 

Hailing from Braeside, Clint had a keen interest in most sports as a youngster, but basketball was the leading discipline in the dominantly coloured community, outside football, and Arcadia Bucs was the best club side in the country. 

Arcadia produced an astonishing array of talented basketball players in the 90s, with such players as Ellery Gilbert, Creon Raftopolous, Alistair Rosen, John Dadzie – among others – forming a golden generation which contributed the bulk of Zimbabwe national team players.

As more pressing matters began to occupy much of people’s time at the onset of the country’s economic crisis, sports took a back seat in the community, and basketball was one of the hardest hit.

Revival of the game began with the recent refurbishment of the Arcadia courts, with Joseph spearheading the project as managing director of the Arcadia Basketball Association.

“It’s the only world-class facility we have in Zimbabwe, approved by Fiba (International Basketball Federation) and marketable for 2014,” Joseph tells the Daily News.

“We had to refurbish the old court, which was extensively damaged. That court has history, dating back to 1974 when it was first constructed by the Raftopolous family. As young guys we enjoyed playing there. We want to afford other youngsters an opportunity to use it. We want to create our own history.”

Guest of honour at the launch of the new court was former Finance minister Herbert Murerwa, the club’s patron and himself a former Arcadia Bucs player and basketball enthusiast.

“He (Murerwa) was part of Arcadia Bus and played for the club. He was humbled to be guest of honour and said a lot must be done to urge government to support the game in the country.”

Joseph, now 40, says Arcadia aims to boost the revival of the game in the country by opening its facilities to players from outside the community.

“It’s not just for Arcadia, it’s for other catchment areas like Chitungwiza, Epworth, Hillside, Cranborne, Braeside, Hatfield Mbare, etc. There a lot of children in these areas. Our motto is ‘children have a future, love them.’

“This is a big opportunity for all aspiring basketball players, not just from the catchment areas. Gone are the days when Arcadia was a club for, what they termed in the colonial area, coloureds. We are a liberated country, a rainbow nation. We have people from all walks of life at Arcadia.

We do not discriminate because we were victims of victimisation ourselves. Herbert Murerwa spoke about how himself and other coloured players were not allowed to use the changing rooms at white clubs before Independence. We now have nice, well-maintained changing rooms at the club.”

Advertising space will be sold at the club as well, says Joseph. 

Arcadia will in the next few weeks launch coaching clinics, to be conducted by Arcadia and Zimbabwean basketball legend Creon Raftopolous, who was released as coach of British Basketball League side Surrey Heat in August.

“I went to school with him at Prince Edward,” says Joseph of Raftopolous. “He has coached at the highest level in England, the BBL, which is the equivalent of the English Premiership in football. When he went to the UK people didn’t believe he was from Zimbabwe. He is a highly-gifted coach.”

On Saturday Arcadia hosts its first competitive match in the “B” League since the completion of the refurbishment, with some of the club’s veterans making up the side.

“We still play, the younger guys need older guys like us to help them with discipline and also to win games. It’s a way of giving back to the community. We want to have a role in economic growth, develop the country and help Zimbabwe prosper,” says Joseph.

The Arcadia Basketball section led by Joseph consists of chairperson Shereen Eason, secretary Carmen Fieldman, treasurer Glynis Hall and technical director Don McShaw.

Joseph was a member of the all-conquering Old Hararians rugby team which dominated local rugby at the turn of the millennium. He went on to play 10 times for Zimbabwe, winning most of his caps under Godwin “Jaws” Murambiwa.

“Playing rugby for the national team was my greatest moment of honour,” says Joseph, adding on: “I am now more involved in basketball because rugby has many able hands. Basketball has been ignored for a long time.”

Also a renowned music promoter, Joseph’s C & A Entertainment company has brought to Zimbabwe such world famous artists as Movado, Mr Vegas and Sean Kingstone.

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