Growing a club from the bottom up - with James Merchant - Ep. 81 -

Growing a club from the bottom up – with James Merchant – Ep. 81

In Episode 81 of the Hoopsfix Podcast, we sit down with James Merchant, founder and director of the Richmond Knights.

Founded in 2009, the Knights have taken a steady, sustainable approach to growth, starting with taster sessions in schools, working their way up from friendly games to central venue league (CVL) competitions, and not entering their first team into national league until four years later.

Now, 11 years later, the programme boasts over 1000 participants across 32 different primary schools, 9secondary schools, with 21 teams across the club from Under-10s to Senior, including 9 competing in the NBL, and have had 9 players selected to national team programmes.

Perhaps more impressively, there are 9 core coaches that are able to earn the majority of their living from the programme.

In this 1 hour, 10 minute episode we go into the founding of the club, the process of scaling it and the aspirations for the future.

Time stamps:

00:00 Intro
03:18 Interview start
04:35 James playing background
15:55 Knowing you could make being a full time club coach work
20:20 Focusing on getting players playing younger
26:17 How to get the first ever session for your club and scaling it from there
33:06 The incentive from the school’s perspective to provide basketball
35:13 The compounding effect of having a track record
36:48 How much room for growth there is in Richmond for the Knights
39:03 What would happen if he hit 100% saturation of every school in the borough
41:28 Where he sends his players on from Richmond Knights
43:20 Whether he has long term aspirations for an EABL academy and owning the entire pathway
46:41 If he has aspirations for a BBL franchise
47:55 The senior side of the programme being more of a drain than the juniors
48:59 The juniors playing up in the senior team
50:57 Whether the BBL would become more attractive if he had investors and the right operators
54:05 If the success of Richmond Knights can be partly attributed to the affluence of the area
58:27 The different revenue streams of the club
1:01:57 Whether he’s had conversations with potential commercial partners
1:03:28 The scale of how big the Richmond Knights are financially
1:07:24 What he envisions for the future of the Richmond Knights over the next 3-5 years

The show has been approved on iTunes – find it here and please subscribe to automatically receive new episodes straight to your phone/computer/tablet – if you could give us a review/rating it would be much appreciated to help the podcast spread far and wide, meanwhile it is also on Spotify hereOvercastStitcher, and Google Podcasts.

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