Monday, 31 March 2014
As the Worcester Wolves Basketball Club claimed their first ever piece of silverware in Glasgow, the Worcester basketball model is one that could soon be replicated throughout the country.
An All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Basketball is currently exploring how the sport – which recently had its national funding cut by UK Sport – could be used to address social challenges facing disadvantaged young people and promoting a healthy lifestyle and the importance of education.
As part of its information gathering, the University of Worcester, which has gained national acclaim as a centre of excellence in basketball, was invited to share the secrets of its award-winning success in developing basketball from grass roots to elite level.
“The APPG is looking into the best ways of promoting basketball, and how the sport can act as a force for good in communities up and down the UK,” said Mick Donovan, Head of the University’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, who delivered the presentation to the APPG at the Houses of Parliament last week.
“Our award-winning Learning Through Sport initiative has very similar aims, so we were delighted to be able to present evidence of our success to the group.
“It was a privilege to represent the many people who have been involved in supporting our programme and to be able to highlight some of the innovative work that we do. It was a really beneficial to have the support during the presentation of Lord Richard Faulkner and our MP Robin Walker.”
Mr Donovan co-founded the University-based British Basketball League (BBL) side Worcester Wolves in 2000. This weekend the team, which includes a number of University students, won the BBL trophy for the first time following a victory over the Glasgow Rocks on Sunday.
The win was the latest in a series of triumphs for Worcester-based basketball teams; the University of Worcester’s wheelchair basketball side recently won the inaugural University Championships, while the University’s men’s team won the prestigious BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) basketball title for the fourth consecutive year last week.
The run of success comes as the University of Worcester Arena – the Wolves’ home since its opening twelve months ago – prepares to host three women’s internationals over the summer.
The University Arena, which regularly welcomes attendances in excess of 1,500 for Wolves fixtures, will also host the 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships, and is home to a diverse range of community activities, conducted by both the University and the Wolves.
The University’s Learning through Sport initiative has been in place for over a decade, and has helped to involve thousands of young children in sport, allowing them to maximise their sporting potential and engage in learning.
In 2012, the project was Highly Commended by the World Leisure International Innovation Prize, and the opening of the University Arena the following year has allowed the initiative to further develop.
The APPG, which is chaired by Labour’s Sharon Hodgson MP and made up twenty members from across the political spectrum, has been set up to maximise the potential of basketball, which, according to the most recent Active People Survey (APS) is the second most played team sport in the UK, after football.