After a £14,000 renovation as part of a Basketball England pilot project to repair rundown outdoor courts, this weekend’s launch event to open Millhouses Park’s basketball courts was a huge success.
With internationally renowned athletics coach and partner to the project Toni Minichiello on hand, those in attendance were able to enjoy an afternoon of basketball, free equipment, coaching sessions and prizes. Sport England, Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Basketball League were also partners.
“It’s inspiring to see this place in use. It looks great, compared to what it was. The fact that kids were trying to get in here to play before it even opened, it shows what it means to the area,” said Minichiello.
With over 100 players taking to the courts throughout the event, those who made the journey were not disappointed. With high class training on offer from local coaches and the opportunity to try out the new facilities in competitive games, players came from far and wide to give the courts a go. “There’s so many people down here, it’s not been like this for years,” said one local player, aged 21. “I’ve got friends who said they had to see this court. They’ve come from as far as Birmingham, they love it!”
Great Britain international Devon Van Oostrum, a Sheffield local, was also on hand get a look at a court that he spent a lot of time on growing up. “I would have loved to have this court as a kid. It’s amazing. I think it’ll inspire people to keep playing even when we move into the winter.”
The renovation in Sheffield is part of a wider pilot project across the country to repair rundown outdoor courts that can service a significant urban population. Alongside Millhouses Park, Brockwell Park and Larkhall Park, both in Lambeth, London, have already been completed. Two sites in Manchester are still to be announced, taking the total number of courts involved to five. This pilot aims to understand the value of redeveloping local outdoor courts and encourage other communities across the country to support basketball and bring existing courts back into use.
Peter Griffiths, Senior Delivery Manager for Basketball England said, “It was inspiring to see so many people turn out for the launch of the new courts. The improvements we’ve made to the playing surface and the addition of new baskets including 2 baskets at reduced height for mini basketball should allow people of all ages to use the facility for many years to come.”
For more information on the renovation of facilities, please email Peter Griffiths on firstname.lastname@example.org.