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FIBA Media and Market Director General: FIBA wants to leave legacy after the 2019 World Cup

By Pu Yang Friday, 29 Apr 2016 19:00

At the 2019 FIBA World Cup Press Conference held in Beijing yesterday, we had opportunity to interview Frank Leenders, Director General at FIBA Media and Marketing Services. As the local organising committe for the 2019 FIBA World Cup has been estbalished, the preparatory work for the 2019 World Cup is well progressing.

In the interview, Mr. Leenders said FIBA wants to make the most of the 2019 World Cup and then leave a legacy after 2019. So the wolrd basketball governing body will organise hundreds of events in China by 2019 to promote the sport of basketball. In addition, the FIBA World Cup alongside other FIBA tournaments will bring a lot of visibility to thier partners.

YT=Yutang Sports

F= Frank Leenders

YT: Let's focus on basketball. FIBA has done remarkable job in developing basketball across the globe and in China over the recent years. And there is a huge fan base of basketball here in China now. What kind of role do you think China would play in the world of basketball?

F: China is a fantastic country with a lot of basketball tradition. There are a lot of facilities, sports (stadiums) and basketball arenas. Chinese people know and love the game. We want to use the 2019 World Cup to promote basketball (here in China) on the road to the World Cup and leave the legacy after 2019. So we will make a lot of noise, a lot of events and a lot of activities in the 8 (Chinese) cities in the period between 2017 and 2019. Because the 2019 World Cup is not the end, neither it is the beginning. The 2019 World Cup is the interval point because it’s (between) the road to 2019 and what we will leave after the World Cup. And it will be up to us, all the fans of basketball and the CBA to make the best out of it and to use the opportunity. Clearly, we want to make sure basketball’s No.1 position as a team sport here in China is maintained and will be strengthened.  

We need to work with cities and CBA to get to the new generation here. One of the greatest projects is today’s Beijing Enterprises Group, as you see, is the first partner that have committed to invest in basketball academies to get new talents.

YT: How many events should we expect from now on till 2019?

F: Hundreds (events), (including) small or big. We’ll have 3x3 tournaments and 5x5 tournaments. We’ll launch a logo. All the eight (Chinese) cities that we have been to are hungry for events. It’s up to us to work with cities to create a lot of activities before 2019. That’s why FIBA has already established three offices in China. We have people, who speak Chinese and understand China, working on the ground.  We want to make it incredible event.

These hundreds events even can be promotional events. We’ll do a road show through all the (eight) cities, bringing the trophy, players, basketball, promotions and activities (to the cities and fans). We need participation, and also we need companies like Beijing Enterprises and many others to do this, which is good for them and good for us.

YT: Besides Beijing Enterprises Group, a lot more companies are showing interest in FIBA. How do you see the trend going?

F: That’s also our objective for (the year of) 2016 and 2017 to make the group of commercial partners. We have the first Chinese partner for that period. We have friends form Molten, which is the DNA of FIBA. Now there is a lot of interest from Chinese companies to make promotion abroad and from international brands to make promotions in China.

YT: What are required for brands which want to become commercial partners of FIBA?

F: We have different company and product category, so we have to respect that. We look for partners that not only invest in the rights and fess, but also invest in activation. I must say is good start. And the sponsorship with Yanjing Beer and the academies are completely their initiatives.

YT: What will FIBA do in return to guarantee the benefits of FIBA's partners?

F: We’ll bring events which give them a lot of visibility on TV. You saw that over 190 countries around the world will see the brand. And the digital is very important, so will do digital projects with (brands). We’ll give them a lot of prominence. We’ll build the platform and they need to perform on the platform. 

YT: In the near future, what would FIBA do to further tap the Chinese market?

F: The World Cup is right on the rise. We want all these promotional Events before 2019. Our ambition is that FIBA China would exist after 2019 with events, academies, promotions and presence. We want FIBA to be more known to people of basketball, (whether it’s) the name or the brand of FIBA or the national teams. We’re happy when people talk basketball, no matter it is the NBA, the CBA or FIBA.

YT: As you mentioned CBA, the CBA is set work with club owners for the commercial rights to the league. How do you make of the change of Chinese basketball league from your perspective?

F: If the federation and clubs find another model to promote financially, why not (do it)?  As FIBA, we always expect one to be in the structure of the sport, the structure of FIBA. In this case, CBA is a member of FIBA. If the CBA can run the sport (of basketball) in such model, why not (do it)?

I think CBA has a lot potential to grow as a league. We all hope in 2019 Team China would be a very strong team. Team China should not only be the champion of Asia, they should compete at the highest platform (in the world).  The level of the game need to be improved and they need new stars. The beauty of basketball is about many stars, worldwide stars. The kids would say “I want to be Lebron, Stephen Curry and Yao Ming” and “Let’s go to basketball”. They’re heroes that kids need. Also in CBA, people need heroes. Younger generations want to see things on social media and then they follow. They look at it in a different way and they want shorter content.

YT: How many commercial partners do you expect for the 2019 FIBA World Cup?

F: Up to 10 companies globally and 8 main regional partners for the FIBA World Cup in China.  We’ll work it out over the next months. We have a lot of interests from companies already.  We’ll also be talking to companies. We want to find the right companies that share our vision, not just purely about money. It’s about finding the partners who believes in the project and want to activate it and fit to it. We want to make a lot of noise.



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