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Women want to rekindle glory days at Ipswich Basketball Club, as team is relaunched

PUBLISHED: 15:10 15 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:10 15 May 2017

Esther Little is one of the stars of the Ipswich junior programme.

Esther Little is one of the stars of the Ipswich junior programme.

Ipswich basketball’s head coach Nick Drane is brimming with optimism, after the club’s women’s team was reformed yesterday.

The female class of the 1980s and 90s, spearheaded by Ipswich icon Bernard Ball, were major players on the national basketball scene, before the team was forced to withdraw from the Senior National League early in the new Millennium.

However, the club is now striking whilst the iron is hot – on the back of the under-16 girls’ runners-up spot in the National League and the academy’s under-19 girls’ success in the National Cup – by bringing senior women’s basketball back to the town.

Asked if the new women’s side could replicate past glories, the club’s head coach Drane, who will lead the newly-formed team next season, said: “Absolutely, why not?

“My initial feeling is that we have got some of the most talented young players in the country and our academy is in the top-five in the country.

“The difference is that the other top academies all have women’s teams in Division One and we have to try and provide that.

“I am sure we will start in the bottom league (Division Two South), but we don’t intend to be there very long and we want to follow a similar path to our men’s team in being strong in that league and getting out of it quickly.

“It is wonderful for the club and its tradition and we have completed the set now, with boys’ and girls’ teams, men’s and women’s and girls’ and boys’ elite academy teams.”

Ipswich had a women’s team between 2011 and 2016, but decided not play in 2016/2017 for a variety of reasons, most notably because the team was struggling to find a suitable coach.

Drane, who stepped down as men’s coach at the end of the season, will be in charge of the women’s team and whilst targeting success in the future, is keen for the team to take baby steps early on.

“Initially we have got to get the culture of the team right and set our standards on and off the court,” he added.

“We have also got to be able to walk before we can in terms of the financial aspect of running the team and the logistics involved.”

Drane confirmed that the plan was for the women to play on the same day as the men, on Saturday afternoons, at Copleston High School.

Hosting a barbeque or grabbing a cool pint in the local pub for the England game tomorrow? Check here to see how warm it will be where you are.

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A special baton relay will arrive on the Suffolk coast on Monday as part of celebrations to mark the centenary of the formation of the RAF.

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