United in resourcing Great Britain teams in 2018

Over the past two weeks Basketball England, basketballscotland and Basketball Wales, along with the British Basketball Federation (BBF) and the British Basketball League (BBL) have combined their effort to help create a positive position for the sport in 2018 and beyond.

The Home Nations have taken on an immediate resourcing challenge to support the BBF and help sustain the GB teams in 2018. This week an agreement has been reached on the approach required to ensure senior and age group teams can be fielded in international competition.

At the present time, the BBF do not receive recognition from UK Sport to support performance basketball due to the sport not meeting the performance criteria. That meant all parties needed to find other ways of resourcing the 8 Great Britain teams this year and agreeing an approach to a joint solution is a major step forward in that regard.

The BBF have strict competition obligations with FIBA and all three Home Nation CEOs have been working together with the BBF for several months to agree an affordable approach to ensure these obligations were met. Making these decisions whilst considering the needs of other areas of the sport, including basketball’s membership base, has been a priority.

Sport England, as the principal funder of Basketball England and the talent pathway have also played a major role in helping the parties involved. At every opportunity they have provided flexibility and a willingness to find a solution to the resource challenge; all involved would like to thank them for their support.

The agreed solution is based on the following contributions and collaboration:

Basketball England have agreed to support the Great Britain senior teams with £150,000 of their talent grant in 2018, plus a further investment of up to £150,000 from their talent grant to ensure under 16, 18 and 20 men and women’s age group teams compete this summer. This temporary reallocation of funds is subject to final approval with Sport England.

Basketball England will also continue to manage all visa applications for migrant players and staff, liaising with the Home Office to maintain best practice, and provide eligibility checks with other federations across the globe. Oversight in Safeguarding, anti-doping, research and insight will also continue as a shared service where required.

basketballscotland are not currently in a position to contribute until their funding figure for the next cycle is confirmed.

Basketball Wales is not in receipt of public funding support and has offered a £5,000 contribution from its accumulated funds, to assist the BBF through to 31 March 2018. This is a significant amount for a relatively small volunteer membership organisation.

The BBL have agreed to continue their support of the BBF, including assistance with their communications and marketing as well as event sales and management.

The Home Nations, BBF and the BBL will work closely together over the coming weeks to agree plans to make the best use of resources within Basketball to ensure the future sustainability of all teams in international competition. To assist with this, a recent meeting has taken place with the Sports Minister and the All Parliamentary Party Group for Basketball, and our analysis was well received. A compelling case for the sport to get more support was put forward, helping to build on the assistance and resources current provided from Sport England and Sport Scotland. Those in attendance were encouraged by the positive response at the meeting and all parties will be working more closely with Government and MPs to help generate more support for basketball going forward.

All involved in this current agreement are delighted to announce that an approach to a solution has been found for 2018. Basketball cannot and will not disappear from the international stage and young people can continue to aspire to play for Great Britain.

All parties will continue to utilise their considerable expertise collectively to help deliver the national team programmes. This will make the delivery of those programmes more affordable whilst still giving players and staff the best experience possible. The parties involved will be doing the best they can with what they have at their disposal.

Last year, the Home Nations collaborated to help the BBF deliver some of the age group sides. It is with great pleasure that we will continue to work together considering the success that was achieved during 2017.

Stewart Kellett, CEO Basketball England said: “Basketball England is delighted to be part of finding a resource solution with the Home Nations and the BBF. We have gone through many weeks of collaboration to identify what is possible to ensure Great Britain teams remain in competition. The challenge internally has been to find sufficient funds to contribute to a solution whilst still serving the rest of the domestic game and our membership. Whilst the recent spotlight has been on helping performance basketball, we are acutely aware that community basketball, coaches, officials, clubs and volunteers still needs support at grass roots level. We would like to thank Sport England for their flexibility and support in this process and we look forward to another successful year of national team basketball.”

Lisa Wainwright CEO British Basketball thanked all partners for their work particularly earlier this week to enable GB teams to continue. She said: “Given where we are with UK Sport funding and the still recent formation of British Basketball, it has been a momentous week for the sport and all boards/partners to ensure athletes can continue to represent Great Britain. There are have been many hours spent on finding a solution. I want to thank Sport England for their continued support and look forward to seeing the teams compete later in the year.”

Kevin Pringle, CEO of basketballscotland commented: “Securing the entry of the GB Youth Teams into next summer’s competitions is a hugely important step for our sport. The will of each of the partners to find solutions in challenging times is a positive that we can build upon in the long term. In the short term, it’s great that the young athletes will have the opportunity to test themselves again the best in Europe.”

Gavin Williams, Voluntary CEO of Basketball Wales said: “Having GB teams competing in both senior and junior FIBA competitions is vital for the continued growth and development of basketball in the UK. I’m pleased that by working together, we have managed to find a solution that allows our most talented players, coaches and officials to perform at the highest level possible. Last summer, we were all extremely proud of Emily Stradling who was selected for the U18 GB Women’s team that competed in Ireland. Emily was the first female Welsh athlete to represent GB at this level. It’s important for us to show other players from Wales that there is a pathway to compete in top international competitions, and we look forward to more players from Wales putting on the GB vest in years to come.”