ALL Basketball enthusiasts in Cork are hoping that the indoor sport can tip off in September following an absence of 18 months due to the Covid outbreak.
Basketball Ireland and Local Area Associations have been putting protocols in place so that all participants can return to play in a safe member.
However, one worrying trend as the sport restarts is the dwindling numbers of officials.
CCBOA’s membership has declined significantly in recent years from high 40’s down to the low 20’s.
CCBOA’S Secretary, John Houlihan fears that the game of basketball in Cork will suffer significantly unless new intro officials join or former members return.
“We are in urgent need of new referees, otherwise we will not have enough to cover all the games in the juvenile leagues as well as the Senior Men’s and Women’s competitions,” said John Houlihan.
“The last thing that anyone wants to see is games being cancelled due to a lack of officials but unfortunately that is the reality unless we entice new people to join.”
In an attempt to incentives more people to join, CCBOA are offering free membership for the first 20 people to register this year.
CCBOA’S Chairperson, Maurice Thornhill is optimistic that this new innovative will encourage more people to join as the financial burden at the start is eliminated.
“People were instantly turned off officiating when they heard that they had to pay a lump sum up front to become a member," Maurice Thornhill said.
“We are also thrilled to announce that better game fees for intro referees have been agreed with the Cork County Boards and flexible membership rates are also available for the first time."
CCBOA also recently announced the exciting appointment of Danielle O’Leary as the new Development Officer.
Despite being well renowned for her basketball skills with Singleton's SuperValu Brunell and Ireland, Danielle has officiated with CCBOA for over a decade.
“I’m really hoping to discover and develop new refereeing talent in Cork as the opportunities in officiating nowadays are superb, with many young officials having the chance to progress to National League and even FIBA level,” said Danielle O’Leary.
“It has been quite a while since CCBOA has had an FIBA official and that undoubtedly is our aim over the next three years."
One CCBOA member who combines playing National League basketball with Neptune whilst also officiating is Roy Downey.
“Some people believe that you either have to play or officiate but that is not the case. CCBOA will allocate you games on days and times that suit your schedule,” said Roy Downey.
“If you are in school or college, officiating a sport that you love is the perfect part time job and I would urge people to give it a go as it is very rewarding and enjoyable.”
CCBOA’s current membership is very diverse as it spans from teenage school goers like Amy and Ellie Duggan to senior officials like Stewart Joyce and Teresa Murray.
At last year's Basketball Ireland awards ceremony, Joyce was presented with the NRC’s senior referee of the year trophy.
“It was a great honor to receive such an accolade after officiating with CCBOA for over 40 years. Some of my greatest friendships and memories have resulted from my involvement with CCBOA and basketball,” said Stewart Joyce.
“It is alarming at present the low membership but I’m hopeful that new recruits can be found.
“Maybe players who are thinking of hanging up their boots may stay involved in the game by taking up refereeing.”
If anyone is interested in becoming a member of CCBOA, you can contact John Houlihan at email@example.com or private message CCBOA Cork on their social media platforms.