WALES AIMS TO BE NATION OF SLAM DUNKERS

13 Nov 2008

Wales may seem an unlikely location as a hotbed of basketball – but that is exactly what the sport’s head honcho is setting out to achieve.

Basketball Wales’ CEO, Dr Steve Lloyd, today unveiled a strategy which is designed to catapult the game to become the nation’s number one indoor sport.

Dr Lloyd has outlined a four-year vision which aims to:

· Tempt more than 10,000 people in Wales on court - including men, women, young people and people with disabilities

· Ensure that ALL young people have the opportunity to slam dunk and shoot hoops

· Create and build a network of basketball hubs across the nation

It will be no mean feat but Dr Lloyd is confident that the plans can be achieved:

"We need more people playing basketball, and to do that, we need more officials, more coaches and more opportunities to play – at a recreational or competitive level. We need top class domestic competition programme and higher standards of play at the elite levels.

"While there is certainly much to do, we are fortunate in that the game is already very popular. It has been highlighted that, in secondary school , it is one of the most favoured sports. We have already launched a new National Schools Championships which targets secondary school pupils – this will be crucial to the development of basketball.

"We have a Women’s and a Men’s team both playing in the premier divisions – the UWIC Archers and the Cardiff Celts respectively - and we already have some first-class coaches working in Wales."

"We have a dedicated team of people," explained Dr Lloyd. "Many of them are volunteers who have been working extremely hard to promote the game and increase participation and performance. We will be building on what we have already to revitalise the sport right across Wales over the next four years."

Basketball Wales’ links with FIBA Europe and GB Basketball are very strong and the governing body also receives financial support and guidance from the Sports Council for Wales.

"London 2012 will certainly raise the profile of the game across the UK and we must not miss out on this opportunity to raise the bar," added Dr Lloyd.

Indeed, three Great Britain female players - Stef Collins, Meagan Hoffman & Leah Dehaan compete for the only UK premier Welsh outfit, the UWIC Archers, in England Basketball’s elite league, EBL Division 1. They are joined at the GB senior level by UWIC Archers and Wales Head Coach Damian Jennings and UWIC Archers Academy Director Lucy Power whose respective roles within the GB set-up are Assistant Coach and Team Manager in the build up to London 2012.

Dr Lloyd was appointed in April. He is the first-ever CEO to be appointed by Basketball Wales and he brings with him an enviable CV of expertise and experience.

Having been involved in basketball for more than 40 years, he has travelled the globe to expand his knowledge of the game and its administration. He is formally a Local Education Authority specialist and inspector for physical education and school sport. It is this background which will help the sport in developing partnerships with universities and colleges as well as creating a range of partnership projects across health, youth and social inclusion agendas.