Aiming High

A press conference at Cloud 23 at the Hilton this lunchtime to promote tickets going on sale for Great Britain against the USA ( both men's and women's teams ) at basketball to be played at the Arena in July, a chance for our rapidly improving international basketball teams to take on the best in the world. We were joined at the launch by two current GB players, Andrew Sullivan, and local girl Lauren Thomas-Johnson, and by two former players, one American, the other British. The American, Clyde " The Glide " Drexler is officially one of the fifty greatest players in USNBA history, and a distinguished and very successful playing career included amongst very many highlights being a member of the Dream Team that swept all before them with ease at the 1992 Olympics.

The Brit was Lionel Price, the last remaining member of the 1948 GB basketball team, the only time GB have featured in the Olympic Games in this sport. For Manchester, this is the culmination of a three year deal with the National Basketball Association. It's another example of us using top-class sport to bring visitors to the city and to raise our international profile. But it's not just about elite sport, it's also about supporting the grassroots, getting more young people to participate in sport, which is good both from a health and a social perspective. The sort of work done by the Amaechi basketball club in the city not only gives our young people that chance to participate but, for those with the talent, a chance to progress to the highest levels of the game, something many have already done.

A word of warning. The games against the USA are already the fastest selling basketball events in UK history, so if you want to be at the game I suggest you get a move on!

There are 2 responses to “ Aiming High”

  1. Dave Bishop Says:

    You say that you want to get more young people playing sport? My perspective seems to be that fewer and fewer young people are actually participating in sports. One Saturday, in January of this year, I walked past a huge area of playing fields near my home and there was not a single match in progress - just a couple of dog walkers in a vast 'green desert' with added goalposts!

    A report in yesterday's (09.03.2012) 'Independent' pointed out that, "despite massive spending on [the London Olympic's] "sporting legacy" only 109,000 people have begun participating regularly in sport. The original target - of one million people by 2013 - was dropped."

    Perhaps the fact that sport is now a multi-million pound industry dominated by a few, grossly overpaid, 'celeb' sportsmen has got something to do with it?

    On the other hand the Government's White Paper on the natural environment informs us that: "There is a wealth of evidence on the positive effect that spending time in the natural environment has on the health and emotional well-being of children. The quality of the local natural environment is one of the factors that shapes our health over a lifetime. A good-quality environment is associated with a decrease in problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It is also linked with better mental health, reduced stress and more physical activity."

    Perhaps, Sir Richard, in focussing on participation in sports (which could be a lost cause?) you're focussing on the wrong thing and you should be working harder to improve the local natural environment (?)

  2. Dave Bishop Says:

    Last Sunday morning I walked down to the Mersey, near Jackson's Boat. On the way I passed an excited gaggle of children gathering frog spawn for their garden pond - both sights are now getting rarer: children enjoying nature and frog spawn (I gently reminded the children not to take too much).
    By the river a huge number of people: individuals and family groups were jogging, exercising their dogs or just strolling.
    Meanwhile one group of volunteers, the Friends of Chorlton Meadows, were performing habitat management tasks on Hardy Farm (with the full approval of the land-owner) and another group were litter picking on nearby Chorlton Ees. No doubt each of these people were experiencing benefits to their mental and physical health.
    There may have been some organised sports going on on nearby playing fields - but I didn't get over there. Presumably, though, those sports would have mainly benefited young men and excluded the women, little kids and grandads enjoying the river bank.
    Nearby the Metrolink works reminded us that powerful forces still see the natural environment as irrelevant and expendable and are still working hard to 'concrete it all over'.
    Still, mustn't stand in the way of 'progress' - no matter what damage it does to our collective mental and physical well-being or our environment!