Bastketball: Leeds Carnegie gear up for shot at the stars

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Carnegie coach Matt Newby believes Leeds’s ascenscion into the British Basketball League next summer can help continue the growth of the sport in this country.

Leeds Carnegie will join the BBL for the 2014-15 season after making a strong case in just their seven years of existence that they can develop the sport at all levels.

As well as having a senior team at the top table of the sport in this country, the Leeds Metropolitan University programme also has a strong community and junior set-up which will only gain greater credibility now that it is part of the BBL family.

And for Newby, Carnegie’s proud record of producing home-grown players, will serve both themselves and the league well from next season and beyond.

“The aspiration of our programme is to be successful on a number of fronts,” said Newby, Carnegie’s director of coaching.

“I’d like to see our community programme expand and offer better value for young people in all communities of Leeds.

“We’re active on five sites across the city, and we’d like more sites to introduce kids to the game.

“From a franchise point of view I’d like us to be competitive team in the league, as in a top-four team consistently, that’s where we’d like to be.

“In terms of youth development, I’d like to see what we’ve done with current player Daniel Evans repeated time and again.

“We want to put young faces in the national teams, we want to put national vests on those Carnegie bodies, that would be our biggest achievement; to produce young men and women who contribute at a national level.”

Leeds hope their promotion to the top level will go hand in hand with the growth of the sport at a national level.

Basketball prospered at London 2012 but the senior team had its funding cut by UK Sport, only for that to be reinstated on appeal.

The BBL has been around in some shape or form since 1987 but has never come near to breaking into the mainstream.

Newby added: “The sport has had its peaks and troughs.

“The BBL had a heyday already and people will look back to that.

“The BBL are making big efforts to get involved with the right partners again, to get exposure in the right way, whether with television coverage from Eurosport or domestic coverage and over time you will see the sport come to the fore.

“It’s a sport you can sell, it just needs to be sold correctly.

“If we can follow the same lines hopefully we’ll be able to contribute to that growth. Leeds is the third biggest city in the country, we have big sporting competition here but we can offer something different.

“Hopefully down the line basketball will consistently be a growth sport.”

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