Jermel Kennedy main picture

Kennedy feels at home in Beira and ready for Elite 16 challenge

JERMEL Kennedy wants a return to the Basketball Africa League (BAL). In his quest to achieve this desire, he has returned to Ferroviario da Beira. But before he can even dream of a second BAL appearance, Kennedy and Beira must navigate the Elite 16 Division East tipping-off in Johannesburg, South Africa (21 November – 26 November).

The veteran forward, who played for the Mozambican club in their BAL debut (2022), spent time overseas and in his home country, Canada. He spoke to the Big Tip Off about his return to Beira and the upcoming Elite 16. Kennedy also talked about his experience of the basketball scene in South Africa.

The 34-year-old’s decision to rejoin coach Luis Hernandez’s team results from a strong and positive relationship between the two. Despite having offers from elsewhere, the prospect of playing in the BAL swayed Kennedy’s decision.

The relationship between Kennedy and his Spanish coach begun a few years earlier. Although Kennedy couldn’t recall the exact year, he and Hernandez have stayed connected from around 2019. “We see basketball for the most part through the same lens, so we mesh well,” Kennedy recalled.

Jermel Kennedy in second picture
Jermel Kennedy says his bond with coach Luis Hernandez led him back to Beira. Pictures: The BTO

In their debut season, Beira failed to progress past the group stages, ending with a disappointing 1-4 record. Despite this, Kennedy viewed the experience as a valuable lesson. It taught him and the team the importance of making an impact within the short window that the BAL provides. He acknowledges that the team needs to improve rapidly to compete against other African clubs. Also, they cannot take their time for granted – whether on the court, watching film, or in the weight room. Unlike countries with longer leagues, they must progress quickly.

After that season, Kennedy had various options to consider, including playing in the United Kingdom’s British Basketball League (BBL). However, he ultimately decided to return to Canada to join The Saskatchewan Rattlers for his fourth season in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL).

Kennedy has previously played in the CEBL during the offseason to stay active and improve, and he felt that playing at home would be a bonus, allowing his family and friends to see him in action. As he explains, “Although I had the option to play in the BBL, which was appealing at the time, it’s always great to have the opportunity to play at home.”

In an impressive Elite 16 Road to BAL performance last year, Beira proved their mettle as a serious contender, finishing second only to the Cape Town Tigers last year. Emboldened by their success, Beira set out to conquer the BAL Season 3 with renewed vigour.

Despite a valiant effort that took them to the playoffs, Beira was unfortunately eliminated by Senegal’s AS Douanes in the quarter-finals. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Jermel Kennedy,BSc (@jermz30)

Kennedy’s initial visit to Beira left a lasting impression on him. The strong bond he had developed with Coach Hernandez and his team members left a lasting impact. This connection made his decision to return to Southern Africa an easy one.

“The coach approached me about the prospect of coming back, and I knew that my good friend Will Perry was also planning to return. I’ve always enjoyed playing alongside him, and our shared history of winning only made the decision more obvious.”

Kennedy, it seems, has found it easy to settle in with the team. He feels like he has never left Beira.

“I have built strong relationships with all my teammates and it’s as if I’ve seamlessly picked up where I left off,” said Kennedy. “We have great camaraderie. There are a few changes to the team… But I’m excited to see the impact we can make this time around”

Kennedy shared his thoughts on the growth of basketball on the African continent. His views come in light of the expanded BAL Season 4, which will see South Africa host the new Kalahari Conference early next year. He contrasted this with the CEBL, which is also in its early stages of development.

“Despite operating on different continents, both the CEBL and BAL share similar frameworks that have led to solid growth. They offer opportunities to players worldwide, fostering diversity and talent exchange. Innovative marketing, fan engagement, and partnerships contribute to their success,” said Kennedy.

Jermel Kennedy playing in the 2021 Elite 16
Jermel Kennedy says Beira has to improve vastly if they qualify for the BAL.

Kennedy got a taste of the South African basketball culture when he participated in the 2022 Ashraf Lodewyk Memorial tournament alongside Beira teammate Will Perry. From that experience, Kennedy feels teams that will qualify for the Kalahari Conference are in for a treat.

“I think the energy and the passion of the fans in South Africa is underrated,” said the forward. “I think teams will be surprised by the number of fans that will be in attendance and their knowledge of basketball.”

With Kennedy’s versatility, a readiness to take on any role, and a winning mindset, he can make the team tick. The Canadian will be a key piece to Beira’s quest for a third BAL appearance.

* Beira are in Group B in the Elite 16 alongside COSPN (Madagascar) and City Oilers (Uganda), JBC (Zimbabwe). 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights