Exciting initiatives aimed at youngsters and increased opportunities to play basketball has seen the sport cement its place as the second most popular team sport according to a national survey.
Over 1.2 million people are playing basketball regularly in England with 901,600 children, under the age of 16 playing weekly, according to figures released from Active Lives, with many of those youngsters taking part in programmes, organised by Basketball England and the many clubs and volunteers that make the sport happen at the community level.
These include the Jr. NBA Leagues, Dynamik National Schools Competition, Aspire and the thousands of local playing and coaching opportunities every week in local clubs and outdoor courts. We have many clubs and associations who are part of the National Basketball League and the network of local leagues, central venue leagues and festivals taking place each week who offer fantastic basketball experiences. In addition, we have engaged more young people to establish what they want from the game going forward.
Basketball England Chief Executive, Stewart Kellett, said “We welcome the first release of the Active Lives Children and Young People Survey with great interest. The survey gives us a significant insight into the sporting habits of young people in England and will allow our team and the club network to use this insight to continue to develop the many opportunities across the country to ensure that they remain relevant, inclusive and provide exactly what young people want from basketball."
“It is also encouraging to see the large numbers of young people playing basketball and another reminder of how important basketball is as a team sport in the sporting landscape in this country. With the health and well-being of young people increasing in importance, and of concern to the government, we know the sport can grow and engage many more people to enjoy basketball and develop active lifestyles and life skills."
"The survey results give us further confidence that basketball can make a major contribution to the government’s social outcomes for sport. We have many positive, fun and safe playing environments for young people to develop and many of our clubs have developed expertise beyond the traditional sports club providing so much more than purely sport. We are encouraging more people to get involved and have confidence in our great local network of clubs."
The Active Lives Children and Young People Survey is an extension of the Active Lives Adult Survey, which had its first set of data published in January 2017. The added focus is on children and young people, aged between five and 16, and is the most comprehensive insight into how children in England are taking part in sport and physical activity, both in and out of school.
Whilst the survey shows many positives about young people’s participation in sport, it also demonstrates that there are still gaps in participation and that sport as a sector can do more to influence young people’s attitudes towards sport.
As part of this influence, Basketball England with the support of Sport England, and our partnership with clubs and schools are preparing to launch an exciting new primary aged introductory programme, Slam Jam. The exciting new programme will give even more young people access to a brilliant introduction to basketball with specifically trained coaches who work with young people. This great first experience will engage young people in a lot of fun based activity and help them fall in love with basketball.
At secondary school, we are giving even more children an excellent first taste of competitive basketball throughout with the Jr. NBA programme, which has expanded to encompass almost 390 secondary schools this year and is set to expand again in the next academic year.
The Dynamik National Schools Competition adds value to the vast number of players playing in the School Games to give all schools in the country the opportunity to play high quality games and be crowned the national champions.
According to Active Lives, 20% of boys are more likely to be active every day than girls (14%), which is a long standing, national challenge for sports providers and Basketball England will be playing its part in addressing the disparity by be implementing a new and exciting campaign in 2019, focusing on attracting more young girls to the sport as well as retaining the girls that are already involved by removing the barriers that prevent girls from getting involved so more girls can access our great sport. The campaign is being designed in partnership with women’s professional clubs, community clubs and young people who are informing how the campaign will be delivered.
We are also working with the thousands of clubs and volunteers to provide more opportunities to play in clubs as an affordable and sustainable way of growing participation. These include two further initiatives – the Satellite Clubs programme and a re-positioning of our competitions.
Basketball England’s series of satellite clubs, that bridge the gap between school and club basketball, is expanding to give those players who want to be involved in basketball regularly, but can’t commit to a traditional club structure, a chance to get involved and enjoy the sport, changing the sporting habits of those involved.
A comprehensive competition review of club basketball is underway, to ensure that Basketball England’s junior club players have the best experiences when playing competitive club basketball and can play regularly at the right standard on an appropriate geographic basis, to help them build a resilient habit of playing the sport.
If you wish to get more involved go to www.basketballengland.co.uk or contact us on 0330 600 1170.