- National Teams
Basketball England have confirmed the new structure changes for the 2015-16 NBL season with Division 4 being replaced with regional Development Leagues and an overhaul of the junior competitions, as Hoopsfix first reported in August.
Division 1 will welcome an extra team to take its total up to 14 teams, while 12 teams will remain in Division 2 with the top two eligible for promotion, while the bottom two will be subjected to relegation. Division 3 North will still include 12 teams as per this season, but the number of teams in the South will be increased from 10 to 12.
The restructure will also see major changes to the junior leagues, with U13 & U15 National Leagues scrapped, and Conference competitions turning into development leagues. Additionally, there will be the introduction of an U12 regional development competition as well.
We got the chance to talk to Basketball England’s National Leagues & Events Officer, Liam Wordsworth, about the forthcoming changes.
Hoopsfix: How do you think the proposed changes will benefit the national league competitions?
Liam Wordsworth (LW): The changes that we have made will help to improve the standards of the NBL. By building the structure that is ‘standards led’, it will give clubs the opportunity to see exactly what standards need to be met and what they need to do to progress. The structure change is not a huge one at this point. However, what it will do is allow us to do is review the leagues and the teams at the end of each season and re-evaluate the standards to grow the quality of the leagues, both on and off court.
However, Clubs will still need to apply for promotion. Primarily the teams that finish in the top two positions will be able to apply for promotion, however the standards of these clubs will be reviewed more heavily to ensure they are able to meet the increased standards of the higher division. If teams do not meet the standards, we may consider looking at other clubs who can meet the standards (both on and off the court). If we feel it is needed we will invite teams along to finals events where a panel would review the club to ensure they meet the criteria of the division they are applying for.
We have been mindful that a large proportion of our clubs are mainly amateur and run by volunteers so creating a structure that grows each and every season rather than a massive overhaul is more beneficial.
Hoopsfix: What is the rationale behind scrapping Division 4 for Developmental Leagues? What are you hoping will be the result?
LW: We haven’t scrapped Division four. We have just rebranded it to the National Basketball Development League (NBDL). We are hoping the result of this in its first instance is to make it more attractive to teams who are considering entering the National League. If more teams enter, it would allow us to create more smaller conferences. This would reduce costs for the teams and make it more inviting to play at this level. As previously mentioned we will review each league at the end of each season, so further changes may be made to make entering the NBDL easier and more attractive.
Hoopsfix: What is the rationale behind scrapping the U13 & U15 Junior Leagues? What are you hoping will be the result?
LW: We removed the U13/U15 junior leagues as we feel that it was harming the junior game. We did a lot of research into Junior basketball in other countries as well as other sports here in England. What we found was that by removing these leagues, players would be given more opportunity to develop as they would have two years at each age group and play and experience different players.
Hoopsfix: How will the development leagues work? How many will there be, what will the structure be, how will teams get promoted, who will administer them (regional?) etc?
LW: The development leagues will still be administered by us. How many there will be, will be dependent on entries. The top two from each conference will be able to apply for promotion however, as mentioned above it won’t be as straight forward as previous. Teams will have to already meet, or show the capabilities that they can meet the standards of the division they would be promoted to.
Hoopsfix: How will you determine who will get the extra spot in D1 next season?
LW: Until the entries come in it is hard to say. The standards of the clubs will determine who competes in Division 1 next season.
Hoopsfix: What’s the idea behind adding the U12 development league?
LW: The under 12’s is something that was highlighted to us by some of teams and the members of the development staff last year. We decided to put the time in to research this which we did by looking at what other national federations do and what the clubs thought. From our research we found that countries such as Germany, Spain, Belgium and Slovenia have really successful Under 12 structures. This lead into us looking into how/if we could develop something that worked within England rather than just doing it because other countries do and copying a model that may not suit the culture of Basketball in England. The next step we took was feedback from the clubs. This was very positive and well received in all the feedback we got back.
We are currently working on finalising how the under 12’s competition will look and operate. We want to have children involved in basketball from a younger age and we are all really excited about the potential of the league and having more younger players enjoying basketball.
Hoopsfix: What are the biggest changes in the rules and regulations/standards next season?
LW: I wouldn’t say there are any big changes this season. As mentioned above we have made a decision to adopt a process of putting a lot of time and effort into reviewing our leagues each summer. Making huge changes could be harmful to the amateur clubs but so could changing nothing and trying to keep a steady ship. We are committed to making the game and our leagues grow and this change in structure will really help that.
One thing that can be noticed in the standards is how they are higher in the higher divisions and lower as you move down. That was our aim from the start and we are happy with how they look. Over the coming seasons you will see these standards raised as the teams meet them.
The regulations have mainly had a tidy up more than anything to ensure they meet legal requirements and are easier to read. One thing that has been introduced is a point deduction for failure to provide scoresheets in all divisions and providing statistics using the FIBA LiveStats software in division one and two. It doesn’t have to be done live but they do have to use the software. I think this is a step in the right direction. We have to remember this is a players league and we want to do more to make in better for them. It will also be an invaluable resource for coaches.
Hoopsfix: We assume all these changes have come about because of market research? What was the research/who performed it/what did it involve?
LW: We started with a focus group with included National League staff, National Team staff and selected experts within the basketball community who have a vast knowledge of the domestic, European and international game. From this meeting we developed a draft structure which we sent to all current National League clubs to get their feedback.
The standards were developed by ourselves based on research we conducted internally on how teams currently meet them. We have always had a standards but we want to do a better job enforcing them, along with the regulations.
This is by no means the end of the development work. We are working closer with the development staff here and will have a feedback period at the end of each season for teams to have their say on the NBL and JR. NBL. This will be used as part of the review process.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!