British basketball

British basketball: ‘Growth is beautiful but there is still so much more to do’

British basketball associations are proud of the growth that the sport has made in London and across the UK, but have admitted that there is still progress to be made. 

The Black Prince Trust (BPT) is a non-profit organisation based in Lambeth, managing a 2.5 acre sports hub which has five football pitches, a boxing studio, and two indoor basketball courts. 

They are especially well known in the basketball community and work closely with many different organisations – including the London Basketball Association and the London Lions – to improve the health and wellbeing of the community. 

Diana Voynova, Programmes & Partnerships Manager of the BPT, said: “Basketball has grown massively in London and it’s beautiful to see how far we have come, but the most important message is that we don’t stop now.

“We have a lot of different sessions that tailor and target every kind of group. 

“There is a lot going on but there is so much more that we can do.”

Voynova used to play professional basketball herself, both in America and across Europe, before coming to London. 

Upon arrival, she was surprised at the lack of attendance and interest in British basketball and was determined to help grow the sport among the community. 

She said: “I have been blessed to have played professionally for as long as I did and now I am happy to give back to the community and help others achieve their dreams.

“It’s not just about going professional, it’s about what basketball can teach you: the discipline, the work ethic, the commitment and teamwork.”

The BPT also has commercial partnerships with the global brands Nike and Jordan, who help fund their community delivery. 

Voynova added: “Being a charity, the main constraint we have is funding, so we’re always looking for available funding to make our ideas possible.

“Nike and Jordan have always supported our delivery and what we do here.” 

FRESH MERCH: Nike and Jordan regularly team up with the BPT to provide the community with fresh new merchandise

Despite an estimated 1.3 million regular players in the UK, there seems to be a lot of potential for promotion of the sport in London.

The British Basketball League (BBL) is the highest tier of professional basketball for men in Great Britain and has contributed largely to the growth of the sport on a national level. 

Upon taking up the role as CEO of the BBL at the end of last year, Aaron Radin recognised that the addressable market in the UK of people who have demonstrated an interest in and/or play basketball was much larger than those already engaged. 

Radin said: “To achieve growth, we needed to level up our product, so we launched a rebrand. 

“The principal aim was to set a new marker of what the league is and give a new impression of it, creating a distinct identity.” 

The BBL has since been focusing on the production side of the business, ensuring that high quality content is provided to fans of basketball across the country and worldwide. 

Radin added: “We’re also doing regular features that tell the stories of the players, coaches and clubs in the league to create more emotive connections.” 

Things are clearly looking a bit brighter for basketball in the UK, with last year marking a record breaking season for the BBL. 

Over the course of the 22/23 season, viewership on YouTube and SkySports increased by over 200%, as well as unparalleled crowd attendances across multiple venues. 

In addition to the positive increase in viewership and attendance, there has been improvements in the number of basketball participants in the sport across the country. 

Despite the progress, Radin admitted: “We are doing a lot, but there is always more we can do.

“We want to create more opportunities for young people to play because that is where you begin to establish your love for the sport. 

“We need to have more resources to support the efforts of schools, including better coaching and better facilities.”

The BBL has also been focusing on the game experience – from the moment fans walk into the arena until the moment they walk out, what is their experience going to be? 

To achieve the best experiences across the board, they have been working with all the clubs in the league, providing them with counsel, sharing best practices, and identifying what the ‘run of show’ should look like. 

London Lions – one of those clubs – have improved their experience which led to a record attendance at the Copper Box for their Euro Cup match against Paris earlier in October. 

Petar Bozic, head coach of the Lions, said: “It was unbelievable and I want to thank everyone who attended tonight, they witnessed an amazing game.

“I am sure that we will break this record a few more times during the season.” 

The Lions are the biggest professional team in the capital, and therefore a flyer of the British basketball flag. 

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