'Development Has Always Been Our Priority' - Joe Forber - Hoopsfix.com

‘Development Has Always Been Our Priority’ – Joe Forber

Basketball in Manchester at the moment is going through some big changes.With rumours of an impending BBL team, the Manchester Magic have reconsidered their structure, leading to some major reshuffling; namely, the withdrawal of the Senior side from EBL Division 1, whilst the Division 3 side has remained intact. Many have asked the question why scrap the D1 team and start from D3. Hoopsfix contacted Joe Forber, the man largely responsible for the Manchester Magic programme and asked him to share their thought processes behind the changes. Over to Joe…

The Board of Trustees at Manchester Magic has felt for some time that we would like to improve the link between our highly successful boys development programme (4/5 National titles at Under 13, 14, 15, 16 levels this season) and our Senior programme. We felt that more of our boys would be inclined to stay in Manchester to study and play for the Magic, if they could see the opportunity was there to do this.

We knew that we would be losing most of our top line Senior players from this season, regardless of whether we were EBL 1 or EBL 3 – perhaps only one young first five player would remain to play for us. Therefore, if we entered Division 1, it would be mainly with a squad of Junior players who simply could not compete at that level. If we allowed ourselves to get into this situation, our solution could be to bring in outside players on a short term basis, for a quick fix, in order to retain our Div 1 status. i.e. we would be back to the way we have worked for many years and this made no sense at all.

There were further complications with the proposed BBL team in Manchester and the drain that this may have on our players. We were given a deadline by EB (Thursday 21 April) to decide on Div 1 or Div 3. We did not want to commit to Div 1 and then find that any further drain on players to BBL would simply make us totally uncompetitive at Div 1. At the time of writing, we still do not know whether there will be a BBL team in Manchester or not.

With a completely new philosophy of encouraging our own players to stay in the area, and, hopefully attracting other players to come and study in Manchester, this would give us a 3/4 year commitment from players. This would enable us to build a new system with a new philosophy of student athletes which would sustain the Club at Senior level in the long term. Also, beginning this new process from Division 3, would take the pressure off the coach in trying to maintain Division 1 status with a weak squad, and thus losing sight of our long term aims.

Both the Board of Trustees and Coaching Staff are totally supportive of this new direction, so we are going to give it all we have got to make it succeed. We do not mind going back before moving forward and we do not see ourselves remaining at Division 3 level – our target is to move up the Divisions. We would then have a pathway at the Club from Under 13 to Seniors which all our players could focus upon. Despite some rumours to the contrary, development, both boys and girls, has always been our priority at the Magic and we feel that, in the long term, we are moving in the correct direction for the Club and for basketball in this country.

My summary would have 2 arms to it:

1. The Club begins a policy of developing more of our players beyond the age of 18.

2. At the same time, we are trying to build something which has solid foundations to move up to EBL 1 (and possibly further) as soon as possible.

Our website gives all details of this change of direction and also information about our trials this coming weekend (Juniors and Seniors). Visit www.amaechibasketballcentre.com

Thoughts? Should more clubs be following Manchester’s example? Drop a comment and let us know!


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