Basketballers’ helping hand

The MBA Cougars are cock-a-hoop after receiving a grant for nearly £10,000. Otherwise known as the Mentoring Basketball Academy, they have recently been awarded an Awards for All grant of £9,378. The lottery money will be used to develop basketball throug

The MBA Cougars are cock-a-hoop after receiving a grant for nearly £10,000.

Otherwise known as the Mentoring Basketball Academy, they have recently been awarded an Awards for All grant of £9,378.

The lottery money will be used to develop basketball through 10 schools in Stevenage, the development of more EBA (English Basketball Association) qualified basketball coaches, referees and table officials, some new basketball hoops and uniforms for teams to enter the Herts Basketball League.

MBA Cougars currently have under-11, under-14 and under-17 teams playing in the league.


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This plan has been developed with the aid of Matthew Eames, basketball development officer for the Herts Sports Partnership, and Mark Wright, Stevenage primary schools' basketball coach.

An official presentation was made last Thursday at the Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre, their training venue.

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Town mayor Simon Speller, who has chosen the MBA as one of his charities for his term, was present.

Others included Stevenage's sports development officer Matt Warren, leisure centre events manager and MBA trustee Jamie Drackford and Jill Eaton from the Stevenage School Sports Co-ordinator Partnership.

Steve Darlow, England Basketball's national club development manager and academies officer, was there to present the MBA Cougars with a two-star accreditation from the EBA as well.

Darlow said: "It's really great to see an organisation such as this gain recognition for all the hard work that goes in.

"Clearly MBA has some very dedicated volunteers who strive to provide a worthwhile experience to young people through basketball.

"My sincerest congratulations on their success and I hope they can build on this excellent foundation.

"They should be proud of their achievements - basketball is certainly proud of them."

MBA coaches present were Garnett Jones, Ashley Goldson and John Stephens.

The trio added: "We have had a really good year and are looking forward to developing through the next stages.

"We have had a lot of support from Steve Howells, PE teacher at Nobel School, and we are currently coaching every year group there including girls.

"We hope to develop this through the other schools this year and are looking forward to finding the talent that is out there."

For further information on basketball clubs near you, call Ashley Goldson on 07852 242657.

* A primary schools' basketball festival was also organised on the same day.

Organised by Mark Wright and MBA Cougars head coach Ashley Goldson, it was held at the Shephall Leisure Centre, Stevenage, the training venue for the club's under-11s.

Years Five and Six from six Stevenage primary schools sent 66 children in total.

Bedwell were the winners followed by Martinswood, Shephalbury Park, Round Diamond, Giles and Broom Barnes.

The action was officiated by Martin Whelan and Billy Swain.

Young basketball helpers from Barnwell were also there.

Also present at the festival were Matt Warren and Jill Eaton.

For further information on under-11 training days and times, call Mark Wright on 07921 828316.

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