Basketball: It’s a Classic honour for legendary coach Betty

Former Hatters coach Betty Cadona
Former Hatters coach Betty Cadona
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The only surprise that a basketball tournament could be named in honour of Betty Codona was to the lady herself.

Today sees the opening round of the Betty Codona Classic in Nottingham - a tournament that pits all eight Division One clubs against each other.

Betty, who was the driving force behind Sheffield Hatters becoming the most successful team across English sport, said: “The tournament came about through a meeting to develop the women’s game in this country.

“It was among a number of things we wanted to do and I wasn’t actually at the meeting when they decided to name it after me.

“I was totally surprised, but very pleased that fellow coaches and players had decided to do it.”

Such is Betty’s standing in the sport that the person who suggested the idea was BBC Sport Unsung Hero Joe Forber, who won the award in 2013 alongside wife Maggie for their work in Manchester.

“We wanted to make the tournament more than just matches,” explained Betty, who first formed the Hatters after the interest basketball received from students when she was a teacher at Firth Park School.

“So there will be a mini-basketball jamboree, a skills competition for the senior players and a gala dinner tomorrow night with England Basketball chief executive Huw Morgan as the guest speaker.”

Hatters, who currently lead Division One, will play Manchester Mystics today. If they win that match they will take on either Nottingham Wildcats or Sevenoaks Suns in the semi-final tomorrow for a place in Sunday’s final.

Tatianna Thomas will represent the club in the dribbling part of the skills competition with Naomi Campbell, Helen Naylor and Keisha Lee being the Hatters player in the free throws, three-point shooting and tip-off competitions respectively.

Hatters have been boosted by the return of Great Britain international guard Lauren Thomas-Johnson who is back at the club after a spell playing in Turkey.