Basketball wins favour

Diane Spencer

Forget about the World Cup, Wimbledon and the cricket season: here comes outdoor basketball. Under a Pounds 3.8 million National Lottery-financed scheme the country already has more than 3,000 baskets installed in parks, playgrounds and open spaces and the same number again will be set up by the end of the year.

A second initiative, targeted at schools, has also been launched by the English Basketball Association. Sunny D is aimed at 11 to 18- year-olds. It consists of a player training and proficiency award and a national indoor three-a-side championship.

Stephen Catton, the association's programme manager, said the game was becoming increasingly popular, particularly among younger girls who preferred it to netball. "It has more street cred; it has its roots in urban America and they see it on TV."

The three-a-side version, instead of teams of five, is a more recreational game, he explained, and can be played on a half-size court. Between the two schemes basketball can be played year round.

Apart from promoting the game, the schemes aim to get children fit and healthy and keep them out of trouble.

Sheffield did particularly well out of the lottery bid with around 100 outdoor goals installed throughout the city, which already boasts two championship teams, the Sharks and the Hatters (men and women respectively).

Details are available from the EBBA, 2-10 Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield, S9 2DB.

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Diane Spencer

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