Pressure from players is to bring a greater input into the strategic direction of the BBL.

And, it has been promised, landmark changes will improve the welfare provided within the British Basketball League ahead of next season.

It comes amid a concerted push for a formal influence for the first time since the Basketball Players Association was disbanded over 20 years ago.

Masterminded by former Great Britain captain Kieron Achara, two adjoining schemes are in the offing – BBL Supports and BBL Inspires – with the former programme aimed at nurturing players for the world outwith basketball and the latter to utilise their status to positively influence the community “and be role models and ambassadors for future generations.”

With some criticism over the scale of the league’s response to social issues following the accelerated visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement last year, the twin approach will be sculpted by a new forum, The Players Voice, to provide a direct channel of communication for representatives from each team to have input on issues around the game – with a promise to listen, and act.

“BBL Supports will have a three-pronged approach,” Achara revealed.

“Players Voice will improve the transparency and the dialogue between BBL, clubs and players.

“There will be an Ambassadors Programme, so if you want to be more invested in your community, then you should have the help and support to do that. And we want to create opportunities in education and training to prepare players for life outside sport.

“And players will have a say in what those should be. Because they already have a voice but it’s just not being heard and the channels are not there.

“So by creating those, the programmes and what they deliver will completely up to them.

“But we can recommend ideas like how they can tap into existing contacts. Or build businesses, like the likes of Ashley Hamilton has done with delivering social media strategy for business. There is an opportunity there to be more holistic.

“And the third strand will be a Legacy Programme. So many guys come through the game but how do they stay involved and be a positive beacon? And create opportunities to be visible for themselves and on behalf of the organisation?”

It will link in tandem, he trusts, with the BBL Inspires initiative that is set to reach outward and deploy players, coaches and the resources of the clubs into the communities around them.

“We can do a better job,” said Achara, who works extensively with other sports in his post-basketball career and has gratuitously poached learnings to infuse into his grand scheme.

“And it will allow players to get involved in matters that are close to us, whether it’s diversity and inclusion, or giving opportunities to young people to get involved in basketball, or whatever.

“The main thing is that players can play an integral role and they should be involved.

“Before, there’s been barriers to that. It’s nobody’s fault but we want to take them away.”

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The BBL has pledged to put resource behind both streams of activity ahead of – and following – a formal launch planned for during the forthcoming playoffs.

“All clubs and players have been contacted and informed in the last month,” said the league’s head of communications, Selina Conroy.

“Building the foundations is taking time because we want to get it right. And Kieron has joined us to help drive it forward and he will be integral in pushing it.”

“We’ve not been able to do it before but there is no league without our players.”

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