Over the years the deaf basketball in United Kingdom (UK) has never been a well established sport despite of large population of over 60 million people on a small country and deaf people are scatted wide across the country. The football (soccer) and cricket has been the main domineering sports in the UK in everyday life of deaf people since it inception.
However the basketball in general (hearing) has been gradually growing in the past fifteen years in the UK, the standards and quality have improved, thanks to the strong influences of FIBA Euroleague, NBA, Olympics Games basketball as well as many foreign who have migrated and brings their basketball experiences to UK. European players have taken the game to a higher level. Not to mention it is known that a world-wide basketball is the second largest sport to football and is growing rapidly and faster than the rate of football growth. One day it may surpass football as the most popular team sport in the world.
In the past, the UK deaf basketball has not been successful in playing on international stage. The last official international competition for Great Britain deaf basketball team was in 2001 19th Deaflympic Games in Rome, Italy and 2002 World Deaf Basketball Championships in Athens, Greece – resulting being the bottom team. At that time the way the national deaf team was pulled together was inadequately managed, no qualifying knowledge and the selection of players were not made broadly and thoroughly across UK nor conducted appropriate development camps in attempt to recruit talented and experienced players.
Now it’s time for a change and revolutionise – for a better deaf basketball in the UK.
In early 2006, three years after the UK Deaf Sports was formed to replace the defunct British Deaf Sports Council, Stuart Harrison, the then Development Manager has been receiving emails from deaf people looking for deaf basketball clubs to join or to coach and lead up to the national deaf team. This has prompted Stuart to gauge the level of quality and experience of deaf basketball in UK to see whether it is worth to send the team to 2008 European Deaf Basketball Championships in Bamberg, Germany as qualifying for top eight teams to enter for the 2009 21st Deaflympic Games in Taipei, Taiwan as well as beyond.
Stuart has then therefore formed an interim organisation called Deaf Basketball Development Group (DBDG) by inviting key people with basketball knowledge and experiences or from sports management backgrounds. The first meeting was held at Doncaster College for the Deaf in Doncaster on Monday 26 June 2006. And subsequently several meetings was held in London. The founding members of DBDG consist of:
- Stuart Harrison – Development Manager, UK Deaf Sports
- Dave Middleton – Head Coach, Doncaster College for the Deaf (hearing)
- Belo Aminu – Assistant, Doncaster College for the Deaf
- Christof Nicklaus – Strategic Development Officer, London Sports Forum for Disabled People
- Peter Edwards – Sports Development Officer for Disabled People, Nottinghamshire County Council (hearing)
- Ramas Rentelis, Consultant, London based – from Lithuania and currently plays in upper division basketball for hearing team in UK
- Lyndon Borrow – Consultant, London based – from Australia, former Australian deaf basketball player, Deaflympican and currently President of Deaf International Basketball Federation
- Moty Elshever, Consultant, London based – from Israel and current player of Israel deaf basketball team for international events – Deaflympican and Championships veteran
The purpose of the meeting to establish what is currently available for deaf basketball in the UK and to decide the best way forward to develop the sport. The DBDG has then developed the Deaf Basketball Development Plan for 2006-2009 and liaised with Laura Hunter, Sport Equity and Disability Officer at England Basketball to demonstrate how this plan will be effective in helping England Basketball to meet the needs of deaf players by working in partnership with deaf basketball.
It was then decided not to send team from UK for European Deaf Basketball Championships due to current limit of funding, timeframe and the level of standard of deaf basketball that need to be worked on. We need to focus on grassroots level, schools, local clubs or teams and build on from there at the same time building up the interests and reputation.
In June 2007, Stuart Harrison resigned from UKDS to move on after having served for four years and the UKDS have reassessed the strategy to change the way it runs. DBDG are now on their own to pursue the development but no further action was made.
In May 2008, one of the consultants from DBDG – Ramas Rentelis who has always been passionate and were very keen to have deaf basketball up and running. Ramas have contacted fellow consultants Lyndon Borrow, Moty Elshever and a new member Robert Adam to teamed up to establish an organisation from scratch to kick-start the deaf basketball and to start rolling.
‘Deaf Basketball UK’ was born.
Our first and foremost goals for Deaf Basketball UK to do are as follows:
- To represent for all female and male Deaf basketball players of UK including Great Britain or England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with flexibility of support and consul where practicable.
- Form local basketball clubs/teams for weekly social basketball training and competition.
- Contacts and build relationships with deaf basketball clubs across Europe for friendly matches.
- Build relationship and offer basketball skills and fun games with deaf primary schools and the grassroots levels for future development for both female and male.
- Create a new constitution, new members and form a new official group consist of Chairperson and committee.
- To start affiliating with UK Deaf Sports for support and to formally recognise Deaf Basketball UK as a new independent national deaf basketball body.
- To seek for available grants, receive donations and sponsors to support deaf basketball in UK for domestic and international purpose.
- To become an official member of Deaf International Basketball Federation who has FIBA backing for basketball developments for deaf players, coaches, referees and overseeing the championships.
- To work closely with major hearing basketball organisations – the national governing bodies such as England Basketball, Basketball Scotland, etc. for awareness and support.
- Develop strategy to program and form the national deaf teams for international events such as European Deaf Basketball Championships, European U20 Deaf Basketball Championships, World Deaf Basketball Championships, World Deaf U20 Basketball Championships and the Deaflympic Games.
Deaf Basketball UK will constantly engage to develop deaf basketball in UK and to bring the UK back on international basketball map.
If you have any enquires or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Welcome aboard to Deaf Basketball UK!