Some of the region’s best young basketball talent was on show last Sunday in the monthly Central Venue League.
Teams of boys and girls from Sheffield, Barnsley Rotherham and Doncaster compete from ages five to 12-years-old at All Saints Sports Centre.
The league is organised by City of Sheffield Basketball Club with junior players from the Hatters and Sheffield Saints helping to referee and act as table officials for the games.
Split into three courts teams play on a round-robin basis with an emphasis put on working as a team, developing fundamental skills and sportsmanship.
Steve Woodhouse, who is a community coach for Rotherham Hawks Basketball Club, said it is a great opportunity for young players.
“We work hard with our ‘rookie’ and intermediate players in training sessions during the week on improving basic skills,” he explained.
“The Central Venue League in some ways break the monotony of that training and allows the players to put into practice what they have learned in a semi-competitive environment.
“Of course the natural instinct to win comes to the fore but we focus on ensuring the players play with good sportsmanship and use the opportunity to improve their team play.”
Although teams are picked primarily through age there is leeway for newcomers to basketball to begin at the ‘rookie’ level before progressing into teams of other children of similar age.
Equally so, promising young players are allowed to play ‘up’ a level to develop their skills in what may be a more physical standard of basketball.
Steve said: “Other sports such as football begin playing matches at a relatively early age as part of their development process.
“Basketball is still considered a minority sport when compared to football so being able to offer this opportunity to play games is invaluable in attracting young players to the sport.”
Todd Cauthorn, Participation Programme Manager for England Basketball, which is based in Sheffield, said: “We regularly have the Hatters, Saints, Hawks, Barnsley Leaders and Doncaster Danum Eagles taking part.
“There is a thirst for competition from the players after developing their skills in training and that is what the CVL can bring.
“By also involving the older Junior Hatters and Junior Saints players in organising the league - alongside All Saints Centre manager Loraine Gayle - it gives them leadership skills and shows them as good role models to the younger children.”
Rotherham Hawks player Matthew Fidler, aged eight, said: “It’s lots of fun playing against the different teams each month.
“Basketball is my favourite sport so it’s good to be able to play games as well as just doing training. I always look forward to the CVL to see how much we have improved as a team.”