Sheffield Hatters and England Under-18 basketballer Georgia Gayle admitted she was inspired to play for her country after her grandmother was awarded an MBE for services to the sport.
Betty Codona MBE was one of the stalwarts of the women’s game in this country; since helping to start the Sheffield Hatters club in the early 1960s, with the team going on to win in excess of 45 titles with Codona at the helm as head coach for most of them.
Her granddaughter Gayle has been selected to join this year’s SSE Next Generation scheme, which supports 100 young athletes across the UK and Ireland who have been identified as potential Commonwealth Games and Olympic medallists of the future.
Along with financial funding, the SSE scheme provides workshops and events with sporting legends to help mentor the athletes.
“I’ve played all my life because my family run the club I compete with – Sheffield Hatters,” she explained.
“My Nan (Betty Codona) started it about 53 years ago and was given an OBE by the Queen for services to basketball. My mum (Lorraine Gayle) and my auntie (Vanessa Ellis) also played for England Women and my auntie captained England quite a few times as well. My dad (Garnet Gayle) started when he was older so he didn’t play for England but was one of the best players in the country.
“I have a basketball family - so I was always going to end up playing myself.”
Gayle and her Hatters team mates made history by winning the inaugural WBBL Championship season, after edging their season-long rivals Nottingham Wildcats in the standings with a 74-64 victory in the title-decider on the last weekend of the regular season.
The teams came into the game with an identical 16-1 record in the league table, but it was WBBL Trophy winners Hatters who celebrated another title at the end of the day.
SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest @SSENextGen