An influential group of MPs – as well as leading players – have given their backing to British Basketball’s fight to win back investment from UK Sport on the road to Rio 2016.
The All-Party Parliamentary group on basketball has requested a Commons debate on the issue on January 28, two days before an appeal hearing on the funding decision is due to be heard. And the group’s chair, Sharon Hodgson, says a failure to overturn the move would be a sign of short-termism.
“Having made the progress we have, including the investments made in our teams by global super stars like Luol Deng, now is not the time to go backwards or start again, which would be the outcome of the UK Sport decision,” she said.
”Basketball represents a very important and very significant demographic amongst the young in our country, and we cannot allow decisions to be made that, perhaps inadvertently, cause this very important group in our society to feel marginalised or excluded or not part of the Olympic legacy.”
The GB men rose from being unranked to being placed 23rd in the world rankings since their inception in 2007, while the women reached the number 24 spot. Most recently, at London 2012, the Men lost by a single point in the final seconds to silver medallists Spain, and the women come up short in overtime to eventual silver medallists France.
GB stars Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Drew Sullivan are both publicly backing an online petition which aims to earn a debate in Parliament.
“I am deeply saddened by the recent news of the funding cut,” said North Londoner Mensah-Bonsu who has forged himself a successful professional career in both the NBA and Europe.
“It hurts to think the last four years could have been for nothing, when we thought we were a part of something special that would inspire a generation.”
“Playing domestically, I know how badly the sport needs a Team GB to exist. Kids come up to me on a daily basis to say how much the Olympics meant to them, and players I coach have all hoped to be a part of the GB set up in the future,” said Leicester Riders captain Sullivan.
“I encourage everyone to make their opinion count by signing the petition and supporting the Fund British Basketball campaign.”
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