British Basketball in Crisis Talks
, 3 min reading time
, 3 min reading time
This could be a big week for the future of British Basketball as crunch talks take place between government officials, Sport England and British Basketball. It was announced last month that funding will run out at the end of March and they need a further £500,000 to be able to field all of the country's senior and age group teams for the next 12 months. This is the minimum amount required to compete, in an ideal world £900,000 would ensure the full program could be enacted and continued development programs run.
In recent years British Basketball have not been a major force on the world scene but increased funding was in place to allow both men's and women's teams to compete at London 2012. This funding was supplied by UK Sport but was withdrawn due to the lack of medal potential. This in itself is quite staggering as basketball is in the top 5 sports in the UK for participation and continues to grow year on year.
Popular in clubs and schools but more than that it crosses boundaries and integrates many different social backgrounds. GB star Temi Fagbenle recently came out with a strongly worded appeal " When i see sports like Modern Pentathlon and Skeleton, which aren't popular in inner city or working class communities, get millions of pounds, i wonder what sort of world the powers that be are living in and what agenda they are trying to push".
Temi continued to talk about the mix of players involved in the game across the UK and in the current development GB teams " The youth from these groups, and young people in general, aren't inspired by obscure sports that are completely alien to them. They are inspired by athletes they can relate with. Basketball has the power to attract people of all backgrounds but without a rapid change in how we are funded, this great power will be completely lost".
She has a point. It is widely reported that Sport England have an agreement in principal to fund a further £150,000 for the junior teams for the remainder of 2018 via Basketball England's allocated talent funding. A spokesperson for UK Sport said they adhered to its remit to fund sports with the best prospect of winning medals but added that they will continue to review their policies. This is good news and potentially a softening of the stance previously held.
Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch has arranged an emergency summit, to take place this week to discuss the funding issues, speaking to the BBC she said “We need to remember that the people we fund are the most likely to win medals and that’s something that UK Sport has done incredibly successfully. However, basketball is an incredibly important sport and it does a great deal of social good, it inspires people in very urban communities to participate in sport and its important that they do see a pathway into being able to represent the country.
“And with that in mind I am hosting an emergency summit to try to bring all the parties together so that we can have some sort of solution to the issue around funding.”
Some critics though have suggested British Basketball need to get their house in order and sort their own finances out by Increasing revenue through sponsors and merchandising. Again this is a valid point as they are not looking for the billions paid to football through tv rights, it may be something that can be addressed at the 'emergency summit'
In our opinion, Basketball is too big a sport in the UK to lose all funding and a deal will be found to continue with the GB squads progress. It isn't a black and white issue - 'that no medals means no funding', as already mentioned, the good the game does at grassroots level within society, is worth more than the medal potential criteria.