Ipswich to get basketball academy

IPSWICH will finally have the basketball academy it has been crying out for next year thanks to a partnership between Copleston and Holywells Sixth Form and the town's basketball club.

Stuart Watson

IPSWICH will finally have the basketball academy it has been crying out for next year thanks to a partnership between Copleston and Holywells Sixth Form and the town's basketball club.

Junior basketball has boomed over the past seven years in the town and, as a result of the community sessions started in 2001, Ipswich Basketball Club has produced a number of national and international standard youngsters in the last two years.

However, many of these players have then had to move away from the town or commute long distances to receive day-to-day academy coaching between the ages of 16 and 18.

As a result, players such as England international Leigh Greenan and his Ipswich team mate Michael Holbrook have travelled back and forth from Essex's Barking Abbey, while Sam Saggers ended up leaving the club altogether to play academy basketball in Reading.

That scenario should now be defunct though with the announcement that, as of next September, Ipswich will become one of only a handful of town's across the UK to run a full-time basketball academy.

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To be known as the Ipswich Basketball Academy, the programme will be run out of Copleston and Holywells Sixth Form College and led by Ipswich Basketball Club coach Nick Drane.

The academy will be much like the American system whereby students receive daily basketball training, either on a team and individual basis, in addition to an academic programme of their choice.

It is hoped that the daily regime of training will give the teenagers a good feel for the professional game, while the strong emphasis on academics will ensure that either they have enough qualifications to make it into an American university to continue with the sport, or there is a good back-up option for those that do not make it into the game.

The academy follows on from the success of Copleston and Holywells Sixth Form, which is enhanced with specialist sports status, in other sporting fields.

The college already has four other sports academies, known as their SETEC (Sporting Excellence Through Education and X) schemes, in the areas of boys' football, girls' football, tennis and netball.

Copleston and Holywells Sixth Form's acting head teacher and Director of Community Sport Dave Leach said: “With the success of the other SETEC schemes we were always looking to add another programme and we just felt that there was an ideal gap for basketball to fill.

“I would just like to stress that we are trying to encourage good students as well as good basketball players. This programme is just as much about giving the youngsters life skills as it is about making them better players.

“Sport is a great vehicle to motivate and enthuse students and can teach them all sorts of things, including leadership and team work.

“There will be a really professional approach on the table with access to top-class coaching and physios. We just can't wait to get started now.”

Interviews for the first intake of students to the academy - which is open to both boys and girls - will begin next January. Those that are interested should call Academy Director Nick Drane on: 07879841749, or e-mail him on: ndrane@copleston.suffolk.sch.uk.

- Ipswich Basketball Academy is also seeking a main sponsor ahead of its launch next year. The are a number of benefit schemes in place for potential sponsors who should also call Drane on the above contact details.

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