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Fund British Basketball
24/01/2013
GBR - British Basketball unites to fight funding cuts

LONDON - The recent decision by UK Sport to completely withdraw all funding from British Basketball has been met by powerful and united resistance from a newly-formed lobby made up of people involved at all levels of the sport - and beyond.

At senior level, the British Basketball Union (BBU) which represents the Great Britain national teams, the British Basketball League (BBL), England Basketball (EB) and Basketball Scotland have led the way.

The political lobby is also gathering pace via the work of Stephen Mosley, a member of the British Parliament and also Chairman of the BBL Foundation who has managed to get an Adjournment Debate on the matter in the House of Commons on Monday 28 January.

This is scheduled for just 48 hours prior to an appeal from GB Basketball to re-secure the required investment from UK Sport which is deemed necessary to get Great Britain basketball back on a potential road to Rio in 2016.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Basketball has also been quick to condemn the decision with Chair Sharon Hodgson summarising the current feelings of discontentment.

"Having made the progress we have, including the investments made in our teams by global superstars like Luol Deng, now is not the time to go backwards or start again, which would be the outcome of the UK Sport decision.

"Basketball represents a very important and very significant demographic amongst the young in our country, and we cannot allow decisions to be made that, perhaps inadvertently, cause this very important group in our society to feel marginalised or excluded or not part of the Olympic legacy."

This work has been complimented by a grass roots campaign, 'Fund British Basketball', a website with an accompanying petition on the official government website, created by Hoopsfix.com founder Sam Neter and Leicester Riders General Manager Russ Levenston.

"For all this talk of legacy over the last five years, it seems like basketball is one of the sports that has been forgotten about," said Neter, whose website receives over 80,000 visits a month, predominantly from the UK.

"To cut basketball's funding, a sport which has arguably shown greater progress than any other over the last four years, is a complete kick in the teeth.

"Their criteria for funding may be medal hopes only, but that is flawed when it compares all sports on an equal footing. If a sport only has say a few dozen countries in it, of course it's going to be easier to win a medal. If it has multiple events and multiple distances the same would apply.

Basketball is the second most popular sport for 11-15 year-olds in England, according to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and should the petition reach 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for a full debate in the House of Commons.

High-profile figures such FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, NBA Commissioner David Stern and even legendary Rugby World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward, have all condemned the cut, branding it "incomprehensible", "confounding" and "completely baffling".

Great Britain stars such as London-born duo Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Drew Sullivan have also shown their public backing for the campaign.

"I am deeply saddened by the recent news of the funding cut,” said Mensah-Bonsu.

"It hurts to think the last four years could have been for nothing, when we thought we were a part of something special that would inspire a generation."

Sullivan meanwhile was equally scathing of the situation and supportive of the campaign.

He said: "Playing domestically, I know how badly the sport needs a Team GB to exist. Kids come up to me on a daily basis to say how much the Olympics meant to them, and players I coach have all hoped to be a part of the GB set up in the future.

"I encourage everyone to make their opinion count by signing the petition and supporting the Fund British Basketball campaign."

British citizens and UK residents can sign the petition by going here.

FIBA

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