The Outdoor Basketball Initiative (OBI) was commenced six years ago to meet the new demand for access to affordable basketball facilities for casual participation. This has led to an increase in the number of people playing the sport as it has spark fresh interest from local English individuals at an amateur level. Its main financial support comes from Sport England who gave a massive cash injection of ï¿½10million, which made the proposed installation of 9000 new outdoor OBI goals a viable prospect.
The OBI scheme has also firmly put basketball on the agenda of literally every local authority in the country who are now also looking at how they can raise the bar set by the new provisions by OBI, further increasing the level of funding and profile of basketball in England.
Adidas has also committed funding to the project, which has enabled the implementation of an integrated OBI development programme led buy the OBI National Development Manager. Their funding has acted as a catalyst for new partners to commit funding to nine county and city Basketball Development Officers. It has also assisted the growing network of EB (English Basketball) Regional Development Managers.
On a very local note, Milton Keynes has its own professional basketball team; the MK Lions. This team, headed by Vince Macaulay (the chief exec.) has made a strong effort to blend into the city, to become an integral part of it and its people. The team are currently aiding schools and the council with the provision of basketball at the local grassroots level. Apart from this though, they have also set up satellite basketball centres across the city, namely: Shenley Leisure Centre, Stantonbury Campus and the Bletchley Leisure Centre.
The programmes being run by the Lions are supported by Sports match, Active Communities and the New Opportunity Fund, and all of these allow for the sport to be played all across the city.
Provision for pathways for elite performers
From the amateur level in schools, the local authorities in collaboration with the local authorities provide the opportunities for local talents. When these individuals reach a level where it is possible to step up to the professional level, those who take over are the England Basketball Regional Development Mangers. These managers working in association with their regional management committees develop the performance pathways for young people in England, through things such as the inter-regional competitions.
Their aims are to:
Establish a regional representative youth basketball programme, by the development of county and regional representative teams.
-provide opportunities for training of coaches and officials at higher levels
-increase participation at regional level
-assist National Team coaches in talent identification.
In addition to the plans to implement a much improved identification and selection process, Sport England has also come up with proposals for a number of governing bodies, as well as regional consortiums, in order to provide a new tier of events. All this will be under the working title of Active Sports Talent Camps.
These will all eventually give the young sportspeople the opportunity to easily break into the professional game, either through scouting or youth academies.
Additional agencies and bodies
One agency which aids in the development of talent in the UK is the ESBBA, which runs and organises competitions for schools.
In addition to the ESBBA, there is another body which provides funding for this sport. They offer clubs playing in particular leagues the opportunity to apply for grants to help in their aim to improve junior and cadet basketball.
Provision for male/female competitors
At the U15 and U17 levels for both male and female, there are talent development facilities and competitions which meet the needs of those playing at this level. Further up the scale of professionalism though, the provision of further talent progression for females is limited just as with many of today’s major sports. This is likely to hinder their progress into the professional level.
Provision for males is always the dominant objective, this is clearly seen just by looking at the BBL today. Even though there is the professional branch of women’s basketball there is still maximum regard for the men’s game in the UK. This problem has only recently been overcome by the Americans who have now got a thriving WNBA soley for female competitors.
Provision for disabled participants
The regional talent camps mentioned earlier are being used to target U19 wheelchair players, whom under normal circumstances would find it extremely difficult to play at an advanced level. It will be run in the form of camps which, under the supervision of the national basketball coach Laszlo Nemeth, will aim to transform the scheme into a fast-track system to identify the most talented young players. This will enable them to move into the National Teams programme.
Examples of the equipment used by disabled athletes in basketball are below:
Critical analysis and evaluation
All in all the provision of basketball in the UK, and more specifically, England, is improving vastly. It has not yet gained a following to match that of the other major sports after football, such as rugby or cricket; however it has to be said that at the current rate of growth the sport is set to become one of the country’s biggest sports.
Also, the structural preparation conducted by those in charge has ensured that there will be continued success by the nations clubs such as the MK Lions basketball team.