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- 17 July 2014 00:00
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A cross-party group of Parliamentarians has called for a "radical rethink” of how the sport of basketball is funded in the UK, arguing that the ability of basketball to transform the lives of young people and help them escape crime warrants greater recognition from the Government.
The move comes following UK Sport’s decision to withdraw its entire £7 million of funding for British Basketball earlier this year after deciding that the GB team had little chance of securing a medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Basketball have now published their first report following a series of evidence sessions held in Parliament earlier this year which calls on UK Sport as well as Sport England to change their decision-making processes to take account of the wider social value of inclusive team sports such as basketball.
"Unfortunately the potential that basketball has to change many more lives is not being tapped into by Government,” said Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, who is Chair of the APPG for Basketball.
"While inaccessible and individual sports get millions, inclusive, socially valuable team sports like basketball continue to see their funding slashed, closing down opportunities for young people to get involved.
"That just can’t be right.”
"Getting a few dozen medals at the Olympic Games is great, but surely improving the life chances of countless thousands of young people should be a much higher priority for public money.
"We need a radical rethink about how we fund sport in the UK, and I hope that’s what this report will lead to.”
Evidence to the Inquiry Panel – including from Brixton Topcats where NBA star Luol Deng first played - showed the significant and unique impact that basketball community outreach programmes are having in some of Britain’s most deprived areas.
There was particular criticism of UK Sport’s decision to cut funding because it threatens the ability of the GB teams to compete at international competitions like the FIBA Eurobasket Championships which the GB women’s squad qualified for at the end of June.
Missing these competitions, it was claimed, reduces the visibility of basketball role models to inspire young people to participate.
Combined with the historically low levels of funding for grassroots basketball programmes by Sport England compared to other sports, the report warns that basketball will continue to fail to live up to its potential, and inner city youngsters will lack role models in a sport they play, unless funding decision-making processes and success measures are updated.
The report recommends that UK Sport urgently review the funding framework for elite team sports to ensure that socially inclusive sports like basketball are not shut out.
It also calls for Sport England to commission a pilot project using basketball to inform a review of its own success measures, to ensure that it measures the impact of sports and not simply the numbers taking part once a week.
In addition, it says that the Cabinet Office should examine the potential of basketball to contribute to cross-departmental objectives, particularly on improving health and educational outcomes, social engagement and reducing crime.
To view the full report, Click Here