British basketball must move former players into positions of influence if the sport is to grow and thrive, Dan Clark insists.

Leading nations including Spain and France have tactically brought past masters within their tent upon retirement with Jorge Garbajosa speedily elevated to president of the FEB and Boris Diaw immediately hired into a management role as a link between the FFB and its leading lights.

There have been regular calls for a duplication in the UK but, presently, no former GB internationalists serve on the board of the British Basketball Federation.

Current GB women’s captain Stef Collins remains on the board of Basketball Wales, retired Olympian Julie Page was recently put onto the board of Basketball England while GB wheelchair cap Robyn Love has become a director of Basketball Scotland.

But with the country still punching below its weight in developing world-class elite talents and fostering a cohesive club system, Clark – speaking on the MVP Cast – has bemoaned a lack of engagement with those who have succeeded at the coalface.

“Everyone knows basketball is not a 9-5 job but it gives you experience that not many people have,” the GB men’s captain declared. “In certain cases, whether they’re working with the federation or certain academies, that skillset is invaluable.

“That’s something that definitely needs to be assessed and looked at. Hopefully it will and some of these guys who have had all this valuable knowledge and experience of how the game and how it works and what needs to be done, they get asked their opinion. They get to have some kind of input into improving the game.”

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Clark will request talks with senior BBF officials to press his case. Getting someone to accept a role, if offered, might be trickier.

Comments from board members – widely-leaked from a recent meeting – that GB’s men are “not role models” due to poor international results in recent years are also likely to come up with a degree of internal anger at the accusations still festering within the squad.

“It was very disappointing to hear stuff like that, especially from within the board of your own federation,” said Clark. “Firstly it’s not correct and an apology is due to the players.

“There is no way you can tell me that a guy who has sacrificed so many things… there are so many examples on this national team now, who have sacrificed, left their family early, to try and succeed with the goal they’ve put in place for themselves: to succeed at, to reach being a professional, and that’s their job.

“That’s what kids who play basketball in this country aspire to. If that doesn’t make them role models – coming from backgrounds that might not be the easiest situation to come out of, but they still come out and make something of their lives and have done really well. They’re a great example.

“I’ve got role models on my own team and wish I could be like them in some aspects in life. Especially with the guys on this national team. The conditions that have been put in place lately haven’t been ideal.

“But there’s never been a doubt about them playing for the national team and they’ve always wanted to be here. That’s another example of being a role model: dealing with adversity when it hits you in the face and keep going forward. We’ve got a great group of guys now who always aspire to doing the right thing for their country. So I think an apology to the players is due from that board.”

After missing the two opening games of this phase of EuroBasket pre-qualifiers, Clark – who is still to find a club for the forthcoming season – is hoping to shake off a knee injury in time to feature in Saturday’s game with Kosovo in Manchester.

Wednesday’s 109-88 victory for the Kosovans over Luxembourg means GB will secure progress into the qualifiers proper with victory.

Clark will rehab and hope to return.

“I’m working as hard as I can do manage that,” he added.

UPDATED: Julie Page, although not previously listed on the organisation’s website, is a director of Basketball England.

Listen to the full MVP Cast with Dan Clark below or find out how to subscribe on our Podcast page.

Photo: Mansoor Ahmed

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