Archers' Basketball Club have hosted a visit from Labour MP and self-confessed sports fan Jo Stevens, who witnessed first-hand the extensive contribution the club makes to young and old players within the local community as well as at top national level.
Statistics report basketball as one of the UK's most inclusive sports and Cardiff Met Archers take the sport out to as many people as possible in their year-round activity while developing their own members' employability skills and impacting upon social change.
Basketball is the UK's second most popular sport after football for 11 to 15-year-olds - more popular even than riding a bike. The Archers run over 20 teams from U8s up to senior teams in the National Basketball League and the Women's British Basketball League as well as disability teams of all ages.
Cardiff Met Director of Basketball and former Wales International player Lucy Witt and Cardiff Met alumna Stef Collins, who is the most capped player (female or male) in British basketball history, welcomed Ms Stevens to Archers Arena at the University's Cyncoed campus.
Lucy was GB Women's Team Manager for nine years while current GB player Stef
played at the 2012 London Olympics and has made a huge contribution to the Archers over the last 11 years. Other big-name basketball players to contribute to the University's established and ongoing success include Emily Stradling, who now studies at top level sports College, Mercer in the States after playing for Cardiff Met Archers in the Women's British Basketball League. Last year, she became the second Welsh female to play for Britain, representing them at the International Basketball Federation Women's U18 tournament in Dublin, where her Assistant Coach was James Dawe, Archers Men's Head Coach, who has coached and played at Archers for many years and is currently Wales' Senior Men's Captain.
Recent Cardiff Met MSc Sports Broadcasting graduate Oli Thompson and current Performance Analysis student Luke Strong support Great Britain's squads, providing analytical support to the coaching set-up. Current post graduate students Sarah Wagstaff and Stefan Rosier also both coach Welsh National age group teams.
British Basketball works with education partners in both the UK and USA to offer talent pathways that provide an equality of access to develop both basketball and education skill sets and Lucy said: "Despite the limited profile of basketball in Wales, at elite GB level we punch well above our weight in terms of contributing to international success, as demonstrated by our roll call of past and current players, coaches and backroom staff.
"The impact of having such role models visible to young basketball players and students in Wales is immeasurable, and we are just as passionate about development and inclusion as we are elite performance. Although UK funding provides opportunities for our elite players and coaches, equally, the work of these Archers, and other local clubs and schools across the Cardiff region, provides the opportunity for all to get involved in basketball, which contributes to the Government Sport strategy and is integral to sport for social change programmes with statistics, including those from Sport Wales, showing that over a million predominantly British, Black Asian, and minority ethnic people play basketball in the UK once a month or more.
"Our players, coaches and volunteers come from all communities in Cardiff and represent the whole of the city."
Representatives from the National Governing Body, Basketball Wales, also spoke about supporting wider participation and elite level competition.
Jo Stevens MP said: "I have really enjoyed meeting and listening to the players and coaches and seeing how they inspire the young teams. We know that sport is hugely beneficial to health and wellbeing and it brings people together in a way that few other activities can. Cardiff is a successful sporting capital city. We've had a fabulous 2018 and I'd love to see the number of people playing basketball grow in our city."
To read this story in Welsh, click here.