College takes ownership of GC Blazers
Following the appointment of former professional basketball player, Danny James, as Head Coach, the New Year brings big news for the GC Blazers: Gloucestershire College has taken ownership of the successful club, securing a home for basketball in Gloucester.
Danny’s background includes playing for the Gloster Jets Juniors and at an international level for England, before he retired in 2000 and launched a basketball academy and club, the Bristol Academy Flyers; both are now among the most successful programmes in the UK.
Currently Gloucestershire has just three local clubs delivering basketball in the area: the Gloster Jets in Cirencester, the Stroud Sharks in Stroud and the GC Blazers in Gloucester. All three are now working in partnership on a countywide basketball development plan to raise the sport’s profile, provide opportunities and grow the game even more.
Will Merivale, Sports Academy Coordinator, said: “Danny saw the potential in the GC Blazers and the opportunities to develop a similar model to the Academy Flyers at the Gloucestershire College facilities. Basketball is the second most popular team sport in England for 12 to 16-year-olds, second only to football, and it is also one of only three sports nationally to have grown participants in the most recent Sport England Sports Survey.
“Working with key stakeholders including the County Sports Partnership, the National Governing Body (Basketball England) Regional Committee, the Gloucestershire Basketball community and other partners, there is a huge opportunity for the game to thrive locally.”
The GC Blazers were established 15 years ago to develop youth basketball and offer young people from all backgrounds a chance to play and enjoy the sport in a safe environment, with expert training and support. The club trains teams that have played in the National League in various age groups, from under 12s to under 18s, as well as in the South West Regional Leagues with both boys and girls teams.
Danny James said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for the whole of Gloucestershire to benefit from the development of basketball, led by Gloucestershire College. There are so many young people locally who could benefit from taking part in basketball and playing a sport they may never have tried. There are fantastic opportunities to combine sport and education, and basketball can provide a number of routes to gain both as a sportsperson and student.
“Numerous players from Bristol are currently on full academic scholarships in the USA, playing basketball at university level, and others have sports scholarships at universities in the UK and Europe. Not only this but the numbers of people playing the sport have grown massively and to provide further long-term, sustained healthy lifestyles can only benefit the health and wellbeing of a large part of the community.
“Gloucestershire has the potential to become a hub for basketball and I am keen to support this development in a similar way to Bristol."
The GC Blazers are now looking to develop more opportunities for young people at the College facility, and are always on the hunt for new talent. There are sessions for young people in the following age groups: under 10s, 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s years, both boys and girls. No experience is necessary, just some commitment and a willingness to be coached and have fun.
There is also a Summer League being developed at the College for senior players over the age of 16 who may play a little, want to play more or would like to get back into the sport after having played before. The summer will see Central Venue Leagues based at the College run for the serious and social players, offering opportunities to all. There will also be a series of tournaments, 3v3 competitions and more for all ages to get involved with.
Visitors to the Gloucester Campus Open Evening (Monday 25 January, 5.30pm to 8.00pm) have the chance to see the GC Blazers in action on the court. Pre-register to avoid the queues on the night at www.gloscol.ac.uk/openevenings
For more information visit www.gcblazers.co.uk or keep up-to-date with the latest news by following @GCBlazers on Twitter.