A host of MP’s have been learning more about the sport alongside BBL and WBBL stars at the second ‘Shoot Some Hoops’ event which was held by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Basketball.
On a court set up outside the Houses of Parliament and after a busy session of PMQ’s (Prime Minister’s Questions), MP’s were put through their paces by the likes of Tayo Ogedengbe and Will Neighbour of Surrey Scorchers and Barry Lamble of Leicester Riders.
There was also representation from Great Britain and the WBBL in the shape of Erin McGarrachan (Leicester Riders) and the legendary Stef Collins (Cardiff Met Archers) who has won a stunning 125 caps for her country. GB wheelchair players who scooped a glorious gold (men) and terrific bronze (women) at the European Championships in Worcester earlier this month, were also present.
— BasketballFoundation (@BasketballFndn) September 16, 2015
It wasn’t only players and MPs either, since a range of partners from across the British basketball community participated - including the Basketball Foundation. Even though it was pouring with rain, it still didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of MP’s who had their respective ball-skills checked. They also heard about the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Basketball’s inquiry report into the positive social impact of basketball within inner cities and deprived communities. The return of the ‘Shoot Some Hoops’ event, coincides with the Sport Minister, Tracey Crouch’s sports strategy consultation which will run until Friday 02 October 2015 after an overall decline in weekly sport participation in the Active People Survey - despite the positive news that basketball was the fastest-growing sport in the period reported.
“It was great to host the second ‘Shoot Some Hoops’ showcase in Parliament after the success of last year and to see so many MPs come out to show their support for basketball,” enthused Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Basketball. “It is important that politicians hear about the important work basketball clubs are doing right across the country to inspire young people to become more active and lead better lives and what they, as policy-makers, can do to help overlooked sports such as basketball. “That is why I hope the current new sport’s strategy consultation by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will give the likes of basketball the opportunity to show how they are able to tap into the potential of young people to help them succeed in life."
Her continual support for the game in leading the APPG for Basketball certainly impressed Ogedengbe.
“It’s amazing having an event like this and I’m glad we have got someone like MP Sharon Hodgson on our side,” he reiterated.
“As Chair of the APPG, she is able to be our voice and is easily accessible to help with any issues.
“It’s a good chance to show people what the sport is about and things like this are important to raise the profile of basketball.
“It’s definitely important to be in the Houses of Parliament and it’s not something you get to do every day, so I feel like I’ve done my part to help.”
His Scorchers’ colleague Neighbour added, “It’s massive to be able to show basketball to people at the top and then seeing them show such an interest in our sport.
“It was a great experience to be at the Houses of Parliament and meeting important people who can potentially help.
“We need to keep developing the interest of the sport and get people watching games, so that the sport can continue to grow in this country.
"It’s very important to keep raising the profile of basketball.”
Finally, EuroBasket Women 2015 participant McGarrachan commented, "By raising the profile and increasing the awareness of basketball, it will hopefully help even more people to get involved in the sport.
"It’s the little things that help along with these kind of events and they can help get basketball further to the front of people’s minds.
"There’s no bigger honour than representing your country and we like to do our bit to represent GB off the court as well.”
· The APPG Basketball is a cross-party group of MPs which aims to promote the development of the sport of basketball at all levels in the UK. The APPG is chaired by Labour MP, Sharon Hodgson, and the Vice-Chairs are Lord Wasserman (Conservative), Chi Onwurah MP (Labour) and Oliver Colvile MP (Conservative). The APPG’s website can be found here: http://www.appgbasketball.org.uk/
· The APPG Basketball’s inquiry into ‘the ability of Basketball to make a difference to the social challenges affecting young people, particularly in the UK’s inner cities’ was published in July 2014 and has recommendations for Government, Sport England, UK Sport and the sport itself to improve the position of basketball in the UK. The report can be read here:http://www.appgbasketball.org.uk/resources/APPGInquiryFinalReport.pdf
· The Government’s new sport’s strategy consultation will run until Friday 2nd October 2015 and can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/a-new-strategy-for-sport-consultation