British Basketball Makes A Stand

07 February 2014

Great Britain head coach Joe Prunty
Great Britain head coach Joe Prunty expressed his disappointment at UK Sport's decision to stop funding British basketball

The basketball community in Great Britain has already mobilised heavily in an effort to overturn a decision by UK Sport to stop funding basketball in the country.

UK Sport, the British government's agency responsible for distributing funds from the national lottery to sporting federations, announced on Tuesday that British Basketball will not receive any financial support until at least the 2016 Olympic Games.

A comment by the UK Sport's chief executive that athletes who 'are not winning [Olympic medals] are hardly role models,' sparked a furious reaction from the basketball world in Britain and around Europe.

The latest move has come in the form of an electronic petition, created by UK basketball magazine MVP, to re-consider a policy which appears to be favouring individual sport to the detriment of team sports which encourage massive participation.

According to data released by British Basketball, 70% of basketball players in the country are currently under the age of 25, while approximately 50% of them have an ethnic minority background.

The petition, directed at the British government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport, was already signed by over 1,200 citizens in the first day and anyone who supports basketball's case in Britain has until 5 May to throw their weight behind it.

Earlier, FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann had made an effort to remind UK Sport of basketball's enormous significance on the world sporting stage.

"While their [UK Sport's] approach of attributing funds to the sports they believe have the most medal prospects for in 2016 makes sense, they must understand that getting value for their investment in basketball will happen but that this takes more time, as it does generally for team sports," Baumann said.

Great Britain head coach Joe Prunty, who took the reins ahead of EuroBasket 2013 and is currently an assistant to Jason Kidd at the Brooklyn Nets, expressed his disappointment at the decision from the USA.

"When we were in Slovenia [at the EuroBasket], the tweets, emails, notes, and all the words of support and enthusiasm were overwhelming, letting us know all of Great Britain was behind us," Prunty said.

"It is unfortunate to see this decision be made in consecutive years, most recently after witnessing a young GB Men's Basketball National Team display tremendous growth in a short amount of time.

"We have been very respectful of the process and numerous people have done a large amount of work both publicly and privately to secure funding."

Andrew Sullivan (Great Britain)
Andrew Sullivan: "As a national team we have been challenged on many occasions and we've always come through with flying colours"

British Basketball has thanked members of the public for their overwhelming support on social media and is encouraging them to sign the e-petition in numbers.

"The work does not stop here and let me stress we are not going to give up," British Basketball's Performance Chairman Roger Moreland wrote in an open letter.

"A positive media reaction across television, radio and online is only the start and we continue to take stock towards our next moves.

"What is clear is that basketball has never been more united in this country in its desire to succeed."

An emotional plea to young basketball players in the country came from Great Britain captain Andrew Sullivan, in a message posted on social media.

"To all young aspiring basketball players. Although UK sport have decided to turn their backs on you, our legacy, I'd plead with you today not to do the same," Sullivan wrote.

"As a national team we have been challenged on many occasions and we've always come through with flying colours.

"Let's not allow this to be the first time we give up.

"The number of people that support the NT is overwhelming.

"Therefore those same people support your hopes and dreams of representing your country in basketball.

"So I would ask you today, please don't give up."



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