Following years of under-funding for basketball in the UK in comparison to other sports, there is currently no confirmed funding from UK Sport or Sport England to support British Basketball next financial year, with potentially disastrous ramifications for the national teams and the sport as a whole should a solution not be found.

Knights welcomes the news that an all-party parliamentary group on basketball will meet to debate the funding crisis, with Sports Minister Tracey Crouch in attendance, and have drafted the following letter to our local MP’s; Sir Vince Cable and Zac Goldsmith, respectively.

Dear Sir Vince Cable/Zac Goldsmith,

I am pleased to advise you that the All Party Parliamentary
Group on Basketball (APPG Basketball), through Alex Sobel, MP, Lord
Wasserman and colleagues, has been able to secure a Backbench debate from the
Backbench Business Committee, in Westminster Hall on Tuesday, 20 February,
2018. This is a 90 minute slot beginning at 9:30 am. This relates to the funding of
our sport, which engages with our communities in ways few other activities do.

We would very much welcome you supporting and participating in this debate,
and we want to make sure you are aware of the rising popularity of basketball

within your constituency. Over 1500 children participate every week in school
and community sessions delivered by Knights Basketball. More than 50 local
primary and secondary schools now have a weekly Knights’-run
basketball-specific programme, and the borough of Richmond is represented by
over 250 players, aged 8 to Senior, across 20 teams competing in both regional
and national leagues as ‘Richmond Knights.’ Forty of these players have been
selected into the Basketball England performance pathway, yet their journey and
their dreams could be cut short if there is no funding for the national teams that
they aspire to be a part of.

We believe basketball offers a true representation of the community in which we
serve, with members from a wide range of socio-economic and ethnic
backgrounds, as well as players with physical and/or learning disabilities who

either attend our running or wheelchair basketball sessions. Basketball is now
more accessible than ever on both a local and national level, but if
the opportunities to progress within our sport are limited then our mission to
inspire the next generation to succeed both on and off the court will be severely

As a reminder, I attach to this letter some relevant related information about the
sport of basketball within Richmond Borough, as well in the UK as a whole.

We are available for a meeting to discuss these matters, and the significance to
your constituents, at your convenience, and would also like to invite you to visit
our club and see the sport in action.

Thank you for giving consideration to this matter and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,
James Merchant
Director – Knights Basketball Academy

Attachment 1 – Information on Basketball in the London Borough of
• 1500+ participants coached every week in more than 50 local primary
and secondary schools and additional community sessions by Knights
• 250 players aged 8 to Senior competing in local and national leagues as
‘Richmond Knights.’
• Christ’s School (partnered with Knights): under-14 national schools
• Richmond Knights under-14 girls: 3rd place in 2017 national finals
• 40 players in the Basketball England performance pathway
(county/regional/national teams)
• Over £10,000 per year awarded by Knights Basketball in free/subsidised
fees for families on low incomes and talented/gifted athletes.

Attachment 2 – Information on Basketball in the UK
• Basketball is the second most popular sport (after football) for 11 to 15
year olds, even more popular than riding a bike, according to the
Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Taking Part
survey. It shows that more than 1 in 4 young people (750,000
participants) in this age group played basketball in the last month. Also,
over 65,000 young people also competed in School Games basketball
competitions in 2016/17
• Although basketball is most popular with young people, it remains the
3rd largest team sport for adults, larger than Rugby Union, Rugby League,
Netball and Hockey. According to the latest Sport England Active Lives
survey, over 300,000 adults play at least twice a month.
• Uniquely in mainstream sport, more than half of basketball’s adult
participants are from BAME groups. The latest data on ethnicity shows
that 58% of adult participants are from BAME groups compared to a
national proportion of approximately 10% in the adult population in
• In comparison to other team sports, Basketball has a relatively balanced
gender split. Taking Part surveys shows that girls make up about 40% of
participants aged 11-15, compared, for example, with football at 22%. For
adults, approximately one quarter of participants are female, as shown in
the Active Lives study, and a similar figure to the 22% of women in
Basketball England’s membership.
• Using government Indices of Multiple Deprivation, approximately 17% of
Basketball England members live in the most deprived wards, measured
by the highest IMD quintile. Much of the outreach work of the clubs and
Governing Bodies targets young people in deprived neighbourhoods; for
example 22% of Satellite clubs and 44% of Junior NBA schools were
located in the most deprived wards. 18% of basketball clubs were located
in the most deprived wards, compared to 10% or fewer of Cricket, Rugby,
Netball and Hockey clubs
• Charities that use sport for social change regularly use basketball as a
lead or priority sport.
For example, Basketball is the second most popular sport in StreetGames
doorstep sport programme and is the most popular sport used in
Greenhouse Sport’s education and sport programme. Each of these
programmes has evidenced improved health and psycho-social outcomes.
However, Basketball is hugely underfunded by government compared to other
• Since 2009 Basketball has had £102 of funding per adult participant, less
than half the amount of the next highest comparable sport Netball, which
had £205 per adult participant, Hockey received £259 per adult
participant and Rugby Union £276 per adult participant. These figures
only include Sport England funding; if we include Elite funding from UK
Sport, the discrepancies are even greater.

We believe Basketball has a unique case for funding, as it is not just a sport, but
also a way to engage disengaged young people, particularly from BAME
communities, and offer wider life opportunities, and reduce the potential for
involvement in anti-social and criminal activities.

However, Basketball, especially at the elite level across all age groups, is reaching
a crisis point in funding, with zero funding for the elite level of our sport from
government on offer from April 2018. We believe a change in policy by UK Sport
and Sport England is required to ensure a focus not just on Olympic Medals, but
the holistic opportunities certain sports, and especially Basketball, offer,
particularly to our inner cities and our most deprived communities.

*Thanks to Sam Neter/Hoopsfix for the letter template and for raising awareness of this essential topic.

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