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Hon Fraser League running at a loss but ‘saving the seed’

- 7th edition of tournament launches; Corporate VI encouraged to support
The popular Hon Julian Fraser Save the Seed National Basketball League may be finding itself submerged financially but at least it is fulfilling its main purpose, through a noble sacrifice, to keep the male youth of the Virgin Islands above water, or in other words, saving the seed. Photo: VINO/File
Co-Founder of the League Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) has revealed that the Hon Julian Fraser Save the Seed Basketball League, which has risen in popularity and status over the years, continues to run at a deficit; but is ‘in no shape or form in jeopardy’. Photo: VINO
Co-Founder of the League Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) has revealed that the Hon Julian Fraser Save the Seed Basketball League, which has risen in popularity and status over the years, continues to run at a deficit; but is ‘in no shape or form in jeopardy’. Photo: VINO
From left: Pastor Albert O. Wheatley, who was representing Co-Founder of the Hon Julian Fraser Save the Seed Basketball League, Bishop John I. Cline; Co-Founder of the League Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3); League Chairperson Mrs Kharid T. Fraser; League Commissioner and newly elected President of the BVI Basketball Federation (BVIBF) Mr Derrick R. Varlack and Vice-President of the BVIBF, Mr Jason A. Edwin at the launch of the 7th edition of the league in the conference room of the Save the Seed Energy Center in Duffs Bottom, Tortola, on June 27, 2019. Photo: VINO
From left: Pastor Albert O. Wheatley, who was representing Co-Founder of the Hon Julian Fraser Save the Seed Basketball League, Bishop John I. Cline; Co-Founder of the League Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3); League Chairperson Mrs Kharid T. Fraser; League Commissioner and newly elected President of the BVI Basketball Federation (BVIBF) Mr Derrick R. Varlack and Vice-President of the BVIBF, Mr Jason A. Edwin at the launch of the 7th edition of the league in the conference room of the Save the Seed Energy Center in Duffs Bottom, Tortola, on June 27, 2019. Photo: VINO
DUFFS BOTTOM, Tortola, VI- Although emphasising that the Hon Julian Fraser Save the Seed Basketball League is “in no shape or form in jeopardy”, Co-Founder of the League Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) has revealed that the league, which has risen in popularity and status over the years, continues to run at a deficit.

During the launch of the 7th edition of the league in the conference room of the Save the Seed Energy Center in Duffs Bottom, Tortola, on June 27, 2019, Hon Fraser, who had earlier spoke on the importance of sponsorship and the cost to run the league, was asked by Virgin Islands News Online if the league has ever managed to break even with expenses.

Running at a deficit

“I said it costs a lot to run the league. That is my story and I am sticking to it. I am not going to tell you how much it costs [to run the league] but as far as breaking even is concerned, never, forget it.

“What I am saying is we don’t break even. We run at a deficit.”

But while the league may be finding itself submerged financially, at least it is fulfilling its main purpose- through a noble sacrifice- to keep the male youth of the Virgin Islands above water, or in other words, saving the seed.

Saving the seed

The important work of the league to the VI society was highlighted by League Commissioner and newly elected President of the BVI Basketball Federation (BVIBF) Mr Derrick R. Varlack, who in reflecting on the name ‘Save the Seed’ said it is a unique name for a basketball league but it has germinated from humble beginnings to a league that has been making a positive contribution to the VI community.

“When you plant a seed it is supposed to grow, and we have started off from the laughing stock in the BVI in basketball right now to the gem of basketball in the BVI.” The Hon Fraser has been arguably the lone surviving annual league since the hurricanes of 2017.

According to Mr Varlack, he has seen a lot of troubled youth in the league but “if you save one seed, one child, you have accomplished something. I have seen some of the kids, not all of them, become respectable young men.

“It was not a basketball name [save the Seed] but it is the right name for this league,” Mr Varlack noted.

The Commissioner also commended the work of League Chairperson Mrs Kharid T. Fraser for her outstanding work with the league. “She doesn’t have the 20 years in basketball like I do but when it comes to getting the job done Mrs Kharid is the backbone of the success of this league.”

All hands on deck

Meanwhile, Pastor Albert O. Wheatley, who was representing Co-Founder of the league, Bishop John I. Cline, added a light moment to the mood when he commented: “I must say in listening to Hon Fraser I certainly hear the challenges and potential problems he has with running the league and dealing with these young people. Hon Fraser, if it makes you feel any better try running a church, year round without a break. But I do feel your pain.”

With just a representative from National Bank of the Virgin Islands, one of the sponsors, present Mr Wheatley expressed surprise there was not much sponsors coming foward for the league “because the seed we are attempting to save is not New Life [New Life Baptist Church] seed. It is actually the BVI seed. And every individual we save from trouble is a blessing for all of us,” Mr Wheatly stated, before making an appeal for more sponsors to come on board.

The ‘man of the cloth’ noted that the NBA season was just completed and Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championships with Kawhi A. Leonard emerging as probably the best player on the planet. He said here in the Virgin Islands there are a lot of Kawhi wannabes and hopes one day there will be an NBA player from the VI.

“But the Kawhi wannabe wouldn’t happen without a basketball court, without a league, so it is important and exciting to have the league begin because a lot of young players will now have an avenue to display their skills and talent.”

Mr Wheatley emphasised that without the facility and league those energies could easily be “misplaced”.

League not in jeopardy

Meanwhile, Mrs Fraser revealed that the major expenses of the league are usually for electricity, referees, prizes and uniform.

“The expenses are high with everything we do. The sponsors are helpful and a sponsorship is anything a person wants to contribute [but] with the sponsorship and the fees at the door does not suffice the expenses. Are we able to cover the expenses we have? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, so our sponsorship is very necessary,” Mrs Fraser said, while reminding that the league is not a money-making or profit oriented venture.

“Let it be clear the league is not in jeopardy,” Hon Fraser joined in. “This league is as healthy as a horse and will continue to run until the Bishop or myself say that’s it.”

He said he had appealed to sponsors because businesses should feel obligated to support ventures that are aimed at improving the social fabric of society. “This is a community and in order for everyone to function as a community everyone has to chip in.

“The league will continue. I see too many happy faces here on the weekends to let them down,” Hon Fraser declared.

17 teams, No east & West Divisions

The 7th edition of the Hon Julian Fraser Save the Seed National Basketball League will get underway on August 24, 2019 with the opening ceremony, presentation of championship rings to two-time champions Bayside Blazers and two regular season games at the Save the Seed Energy Centre in Duffs Bottom.

Regular season action is expected to wrap up by October 8 and the league is expected to finish by November 3, 2019.

10 teams have registered for the A Division (senior) and 7 in B Division (junior).

According to Mr Varlack, instead of running an East and West Division there will be a “straight division” with the top 8 teams competing in a playoff.

“That will be 1 will play against 8, 2 will play against 7, 3 against 6 and 4 against 5. I know there will be a lot of questions from the coaches and managers but this was decided because of the constant nagging of ‘of why I am in the East and why I am in the West…so this will straighten that whole thing out.”

All 7 teams in the B Division will enter a playoff, with the team with the best record getting the first Bye. “And 2 will play against 7, 3 against 6 and 4 against 5.”

Draft

Mr Varlack disclosed that the league has been faced with a situation where there are 10 teams but only 6 draft players. “We have to go and decide where we going to find these other players from or we would have to take them from the league and make them draft players.”

A raffle pick will determine which team gets which number picked in the draft. Only drafted players can be traded; however, trading of players is up to the League Committee.

Teams with the lowest record/score in the 2017-2018 Hon Julian Fraser Save the Seed League will get numbers 1, 2, and 3 in order to have first preference to pick in the Draft System to display fairness.

Participating in the Draft System is not compulsory; however, it is highly recommended so that each team is allowed a fair and equal opportunity in the League.

Elite players for the Draft System should be well-disciplined, and cannot be suspended from any other local Basketball League.

The League

The Hon Julian Fraser Save the Seed Basketball League was founded in 2013 by Third District Representative Honourable Julian Fraser RA, and founder of the Save the Seed Energy Centre Bishop John I. Cline.

The Basketball League is governed by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rules, endorsed by the BVI Basketball Federation and has its own by-laws and governing Committee.

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