- National Teams
As many of you may know, I have just returned from Lille with the GB U23’s and if you’d been following my coverage of the tournament you’d have noticed my comments about the distinct lack of a crowd. I thought perhaps an U23’s team as stacked as the one we have would have drawn in a few people to make the relatively short (and cheap) journey across the channel but it wasn’t to be! It reminded me of a similar situation last year…
It’s September 2009, and I’m in the stands at the O2 Arena watching the Team GB Vs Poland game as part of the Game On at the O2 tournament. A couple of thoughts ran through my mind; 1) the place looks empty and 2) amongst the people that actually did bother to show up, despite there being a quarter of the amount of Polish fans than British fans, the Polish fans were all you could hear. As I looked around into the British crowds, barely anyone (apart from a drunk guy on the front row making every effort to start a Mexican wave) was doing anything to support the team.
If I’m honest with you, when I think about it, I wouldn’t have even attended the game if it wasn’t for a free ticket hook-up (thanks Mike). Now I’m sitting here asking myself why not? I don’t even know; money wasn’t an issue (I was in full time employment at the time), the location wasn’t a problem (I lived in London), the games were in the evening so I didn’t need to book time off work…I guess I just didn’t care. I barely knew any of the players on the GB squad and felt (wrongly) half of them were Americans who had managed to get a British passport anyway. Their failure was imminent, they are, after all, a basketball team from Great Britain; a country which is about as known for it’s basketball as it is it’s fine weather all year round.
With basketball being the only sport in the Olympics which doesn’t allocate an automatic spot for the home nation, in April this year FIBA president Bob Elphinston told the Telegraph Sport that for GB to get that much coveted spot at the 2012 London Olympics, they would need to qualify for Eurobasket 2011. That campaign begins this summer with Team GB having home and away games scheduled against Hungary, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ukraine. There have perhaps never been any basketball games in this country more significant; EVER!
Ben Gordon is in, Deng is there, Pops is too. Not to mention a strong supporting cast made from the likes of Joel Freeland, Dan Clark and co. This is going to be the best team we have ever fielded as a nation. It’s not even close.
But nobody knows about the team, the games, or their significance.
If anyone was ever going to try and make British basketball and Team GB significant, now is the time. It’s time we not only cared, but got everyone else to care.
Today marks the official launch of ‘Back British Basketball‘, a campaign to change the face and fortunes of Team GB games forever.
How I am going to do it, well I’m not exactly sure yet but what I do know is that I will need all the help I can get – and that means you.
We’re going to be the marketing machine Team GB never had. We’re going to force people to take notice. We’re going to make people care about Team GB and how they perform. We will help sell out every home arena that Team GB are playing at in August, and not only fill the seats but create an atmosphere that would rival some of the biggest basketball events this country has ever seen.
So please visit the website, talk to anyone and everyone you know about it, join the facebook page, share it, follow the campaign on twitter and retweet it. I’m counting on your help to really kick start this campaign.