First woman to head RMI basketball

The vote being conducted at the elections meeting of the Marshall Islands Basketball Federation at Marshall Islands Resort May 17. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

Candice Guavis was named president of the Marshall Islands Basketball Federation following a general election at the Marshall Islands Resort last Friday, making her the first female president of a basketball association in the Micronesia region — and one of only three among the 22 federations in the FIBA Oceania region.

The former basketball star won in a 64-16 vote against former MIBF president and longtime basketball coach of record champion winning Team Lae Minister Thomas Heine.A large turnout of voters highlighted the event and the number would’ve increased but strict election rules required locking the doors once voting started so that voting was done by those registered.Deborah Shoniber was reelected for the Secretary General post. Shoniber ran uncontested.Lyla Lemari also ran uncontested and won the vice presidency for women’s development post. Guavis and Lemari are former RMI national basketball team players.

Marmar Lejjena was voted for vice president, while Jackey Solomon gained the treasurer title, both becoming new members of the board. Former national team standouts Alber Alik and Robert Pinho retained their posts as at-large members to round out the seven-member board.
Friday’s election of three women to the Marshall Islands Basketball Federation’s board of directors puts the most women at the helm of the most popular sport in RMI than ever before.

The other two Pacific island federations with women in the president position are Nauru and Kiribati. New Zealand has also had female presidents in the past. But the vast majority of basketball federations in the FIBA Oceania region have always been headed by men.
In the last several years, two women representing Pacific islands have served on the FIBA Oceania board, including MIBF Secretary General Deborah Shoniber and one from Papua New Guinea. “In FIBA Oceania we have been delighted to have had (these two women) on our board and are also pleased that Jubilee Kuartei from Palau has now been elected for the next term,” said FIBA Oceania Secretary General David Crocker, who is based in Australia. “The experiences and perspectives of both genders are critical to the strategic thinking of organizations like FIBA Oceania if we are to make a contribution to a better future for people in the Pacific.”

Read more about this in the May 24, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.