Just recently, an opinion article came out on RTL about the state of Luxembourg basketball in the national 2 level because of the number of foreign players that are on the roster for some of the teams. 6 teams, including BC Mess, according to the article have 3 foreign players in the roster, 3 teams play with 2 and 1 team plays with just 1.

I understand that this has been an ongoing issue of contention in the past years, the gist of the article is that too many foreign players (non JICL) in the league is counter productive to the development of local players (JICL) and that fans of the clubs or the league are no longer happy since who wants to watch a game where there are 3 foreign players playing in a team for almost 40 minutes against another team doing the same?

Let me just be clear that this is only a reflection of my own opinion and pertains only to the National 2 league where the team I coach is currently competing in. The opinion reflected in the RTL article is, according to some, a very popular opinion and there have been some well thought out responses as well as some knee jerk reactions towards it. My only caveat with it is that it is terribly one sided where no coaches, club managers or even players were interviewed about it to make sure that both sides of the discussion were thoroughly represented. Does BC MESS have 3 foreign players in the roster? yes we do. However, that is not the end of the story. unlike other teams, we do not play 3 foreign players 40 minutes each, taking playing time away from our local guys. our third foreign player does not even average 15 minutes a game! like I said, 2 sides to every story. I only wished that before writing the article, the author would have sat through some games in the league, or watched some games before writing. Our team is perhaps the youngest in the league with an average age of 21, and we have a rotation that for the most part is 11 man deep, and making sure that we give our young guys the proper exposure they need to mature and grow, not only as basketball players but as young men. I cannot speak for the other teams who have 3 other non JICL players on their roster, or how they distribute their minutes or even shots but i can say quite honestly that lumping us in there is just a tad bit unfair, especially since no one even spoke to our club regarding this.

A couple of months back in Basketnews.lu’s National 2 review and preview article, they noted that there was a curious anomaly in BC MESS where we still manage to win games, in spite of the fact that our Pro player, Elijah Bonsignore was “only” averaging 10;8 points per game. Although I agree that scoring wise, Non JICL players normally tend to dominate that aspect of the game it isnt necessarily true for all cases.Screen shot 2016-02-01 at 9.14.03 PM

from the table above, in spite of the fact that BC MESS has 3 foreign players, the scoring load is almost even between our non JICL players and JICL players. its all a matter of finding a middle ground where the non JICL players do not dominate possessions, or where you give equal opportunity to both groups in terms of all aspects of the game.

but this piece is not just about defending our club but rather also, trying to find a solution or a recommendation as to what can be done. should we limit foreign players to 1 per team? will that truly be the answer?

One thing we must take into consideration is that, limiting the number of foreign players who can play in our league will perpetuate exclusivity instead of inclusion, and would be terribly discriminating. Luxembourg is a country where nearly half the population are expats, as such should we then tell a foreigner living,working or studying in Luxembourg that, no you cannot play in our top leagues, because we have a cap on foreign people allowed to play? that would leave a very bad taste in the mouth.

In conversations recently that I’ve had with Christophe Ney, head coach of the East side Pirates who got promoted to National 2 this year and have steadfastly played with just 1 pro player the entire season, we both agreed that maybe we are looking at it from the wrong angle.

The Proposal.

How about, instead of limiting the number of Non JICL players, all the teams and the leagues meet and decide the following:

  1. Create an across the board definition of a non JICL professional player and a non JICL amateur player
  2. Limit the number of professional players ( for example 2 in the N1, 1 in N2 1 in N3)
  3. If teams want to add amateur foreign players, these players should only be considered as amateur if:
  • they can show that they have lived, worked or studied in Luxembourg atleast 2 years before they have their players license.
  • they do not get salaries from the clubs they play for. (this is to prevent clubs from finding a loophole where they hire foreign players for job positions within their club or finding jobs for foreign players just so they can play for them.

then maybe after setting these parameters clubs can figure out rules like again for the sake of example, a maximum of 3 foreign players can be in the playing roster for a game but only 2 can be on the court at the same time, etc. etc.

Again, this is not a perfect proposal, nor was it intended to be a solution to the issue, but rather some thoughts that the powers that be can take into consideration when reviewing the league rules.

Nothing can be resolved if nobody takes the initiative to get everyone together and figure out a win-win solution for all concerned, what will be important, in my humble opinion is that we should start taking and creating concrete steps forward, instead of just pointing out that there is a problem.

anyway, cheers!