Basketball England calls on Government to transform communities. BE

Basketball England wants to do more to serve and support clubs and participants, especially in underserved communities, remove barriers to access, develop facilities and train the best officials and coaches, and work with partners, stakeholders, advocates and activists to grow the game.

Basketball England (BE) CEO Stewart Kellett spoke to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Lucy Frazer KC MP, at 10 Downing Street on 10 May at an event hosted by the Prime Minister's Wife, Akshata Murty, where BE athletes Orlan Jackman and Shanice Beckford-Norton shared how basketball has transformed their lives. 

His message: Basketball England is proud of what it's achieving with its current Sport England investment but imagine what it could do with even more to tackle inequalities. 

The invitation was part of Mrs Murty's 'Lessons at 10' initiative, which brings children from across the UK to Downing Street to give them an inspiring educational experience through workshops and activities, and to encourage them to love learning by hearing from people in different industries.   

Children from Westminster City School in London and Bemrose School in Derby attended the world-famous address to hear Commonwealth Games gold and silver medallists Jackman and Beckford-Norton answer questions from Mrs Murty and the children about their achievements, and further inspired them and the Secretary of State by hosting a 3x3 basketball coaching clinic outside Number 10, with skills, drills and mini-games.

Mrs Murty playing basketball with the students. BE
Mrs Murty playing basketball with the students. BE

Stewart Kellett said, "We are calling on the Government to recognise that basketball is uniquely placed to deliver on its mandate through Sport England to tackle the inequalities in this nation when it comes to sport and physical activity. Basketball delivers for this government and this nation in terms of strategy, in terms of connecting communities, in terms of inclusivity, in terms of medals, in terms of making people happier and healthier."

Sport England's Uniting the Movement strategy has a vision to create more equal, inclusive and connected communities through sport and physical activity, creating a nation of happier, healthier and more fulfilled people. The four priority groups for this work are people with a disability and/or long-term health condition, people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, women and girls, and people from ethnic minorities. 

According to Sport England's Active Live Survey, over 344,000 adults (16+) play basketball twice a month, almost 1.2 million children and young people (U16) play it every week and there are millions of basketball fans in the UK. The sport is incredibly diverse and accessible, with both genders and people from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds playing the game. 

Jackman enjoyed a great day with the children at 10 Downing St. BE
Jackman enjoyed a great day with the children at 10 Downing St. BE

Basketball England CEO Kellett added, "Grassroots basketball is where the love of the game, and physical activity, is sown. It's also the first stage in creating and moulding champions. What young people need to fall in love with basketball at an early age is a fantastic introduction to the game through our introductory basketball programme, Slam Jam, which runs in primary schools and through our clubs. 

"The love is cemented by moving on to our Jr. NBA programme - in partnership with the NBA and the largest in the world outside the US - and then joining our vibrant network of hundreds of clubs that create great playing environments and produce first-class coaches and officials. 

"A well-funded grassroots system means that clubs have the support to grow and improve their participation, and there are employment opportunities to earn a living in basketball to create longevity and sustainability at the base of our pyramid. A safe and exciting club network at community level, alongside college and university basketball opportunities, and a system to develop the skills of our most talented junior and senior players."