Thursday, 30 April 2009

British Basketball: A Preston Perspective

The Pride of Preston

Preston Pride u-18’s, winners of the “Junior Team Performance of the Year” award at last month’s Preston Sports Awards, owe their success to the hard work of every single coach, player and parent, according to Head Coach Joel Augustine.

The team has been recognised for their achievements while playing at u-16 level last year, where they became North West Conference champions, as well as reaching the quarter-finals of the National Cup, and Augustine is immensely proud of his players.

He said: “The guys have got exceptional talent, they shoot really well, they communicate really well and they’re prepared to work hard for each other. They’ve been prepared really well by the coaching staff, and it also helps to have the backing of each parent, that’s why we’ve been successful.”

Six years is a long time in sport, and nowhere is that more true than at Preston Pride, who in 2003 were at breaking point as they saw the sum total of their club drop to four players and no coach. Fast forward to now, and the club has over 200 players playing across three men’s teams, u-14’s, u-16’s and u-18’s boys teams.

The club also has plans to expand in setting up ladies senior and junior teams, and the club owed not just their growth, but their very existence, to the hard work of Augustine and others at the club who have worked tirelessly to enable the Pride to obtain lottery funding and Sport England accreditation.

Augustine clearly believes in the potential for basketball in Preston, saying: “All the kids we have are home-grown, they’re from Preston. Kids are finding their way here by word of mouth, there’s a real appetite for basketball and I think it’s going to get bigger.”

In 2007, Preston Pride was recognised as 'Club of the Year' at the Preston Sports Awards and 'Community Club of the Year' at the Lancashire Sports Awards 2007. This was followed up last year by Augustine winning ‘Coach of the Year’ at the 2008 Awards.

With the increased national funding being pledged towards basketball in the lead up to the Olympics, Preston Pride look well placed to continue to go from strength to strength. Augustine, who himself plays for the Pride’s senior team, is clear on what is needed for the club to continue their growth.

He stated: “Ultimately a lot of it comes down to money, but you also need people whose hearts are in the right place and who want t deliver basketball to kids in schools. We need more support of kids and better coaching.”

If there were more like Augustine then this may have happened a long time ago, but the example he sets to those he coaches in the junior setup is sure to rub off on his young players, and the Pride will be surely be looking for a number of them to be involved with the club in playing senior basketball and helping to coach younger players to success for many years to come.

The hard work seems to have paid off and the future of Preston Pride looks increasingly bright.

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