Caledonia Pride coach Sengers hails ‘unprecedented’ basketball partnership

Caledonia Pride coach Bart Sengers has hailed a £280,000 boost for Scottish basketball in an unprecedented partnership between his side, Glasgow Rocks, basketballscotland and sportscotland.

The additional investment from sportscotland targets performance programmes and aims to improve on court performances at the elite level, with the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the horizon, push up attendances and provide Scots-based role models to inspire more youngsters to take up the game.

Professional basketball will be linked to the to the national men’s and women’s teams for the first time, with two full-time national team coaches recruited to work within both franchise teams.

Caledonia Pride’s Head Coach and Women’s National Performance Coach Bart Sengers said: “Today’s announcement marks an exciting time for both women’s and men’s basketball in Scotland. Caledonia Pride are looking forward to working with our partners over the next two years to develop a sustainable player pathway for Scotland’s top female athletes.”

The initiative aims to change player development culture where playing overseas is the only option to combine elite basketball and education, by encouraging most national team players  to train and play full-time in Scotland.

A core of the Scotland Senior Men’s and Women’s teams will be brought together to play and train as they bid to qualify for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, in what sportscotland describe as an “excellent training environment which will promote the best possible performance”.

Head of Basketball at basketballscotland, Barry Lang, said: “By working with our key partners sportscotland, Glasgow Rocks and Caledonia Pride, we believe we can gain a competitive advantage as we aim to qualify and compete at the Commonwealth Games in 2018. Our top Scottish prospects will have the chance to train and play together on a daily basis, improve their technical skills and physical capabilities in a professional environment.”

Stewart Harris, Chief Executive of sportscotland, said: “This partnership represents an excellent opportunity to enhance basketball’s performance programmes in Scotland. By working together in this way basketballscotland, sportscotland, Glasgow Rocks, and Caledonia Pride will create a stronger and more sophisticated performance pathway for men’s and women’s basketball in Scotland.

“It’s an exciting project for the sport which can really help the players in Scotland, and we’re delighted to be investing an additional £280,000 into performance programmes over the next two years.”

The Rocks expect attendances to grow through increased engagement with the wider Scots basketball community and hope to be a focal point for fans across the land. Owner of the Glasgow Rocks, Ian Reid, said: “The partnership with basketballscotland is a significant step forward for the game in the short, medium and longer term. Just over the horizon are the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia and we have a shared agenda with the governing body and with sportscotland to enable a Scottish team to represent the nation with distinction.

“Over the last 10 years Glasgow Rocks, together with Scottish Sports Futures, our charity partner, have introduced over 100,000 young people to the sport and some of these participants are now representing Scotland at age group level. As a consequence, Scotland now has a significantly higher player base and it makes sense to ensure that there is a pathway for talented individuals to progress to the highest level. This agreement enables that vision and all of us at the Glasgow Rocks will be working towards achieving this.”

CEO of basketballscotland, Kevin Pringle said: “We are delighted that sportscotland is investing in basketball’s performance system. We are working to make a sustainable change in our system and our culture to ensure we can develop performance level players for the long-term. By establishing a partnership with the Glasgow Rocks, alongside the launch of our women’s franchise, Caledonia Pride, we will provide Scotland’s top athletes an outlet to train together over the next two seasons as preparation for the Commonwealth Games in 2018. By working together, the game in Scotland can benefit for generations to come.”