Sheffield Hatters: UK’s best women’s basketball club targeting trophies upon WBBL return

The UK’s first and most successful women’s basketball club are back from the brink – and ready to pick up where they left off.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 2:43 pm

Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL) side Sheffield Hatters have won more than one trophy per year on average since forming 60 years ago and are targeting more silverware on their return to the top flight.

The club was forced to withdraw from the league last term because of the financial impact of Covid-19 but get the 2021/22 campaign underway against Nottingham Wildcats on Friday at All Saints Sports Centre (tip-off 7.30pm).

The Hatters have also been boosted by the return of key players such as Georgia Gayle - the granddaughter of club legend Betty – who played basketball in Valencia, Spain last season, as well as Helen Naylor, Naomi Campbell and promising 17-year-old Abbey Whitehouse.

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Hatters veterans Georgia Gayle, Helen Naylor, Naomi Campbell and promising 17-year-old Abbey Whitehouse.

Between them, they have almost 60 years combined experience in Hatters colours through the club’s junior and senior teams.

"It’s an exciting line-up,” said club trustee Sarah McQueen.

"We want to win things. It’s our sixtieth anniversary and the team is experienced and enthusiastic.”

The old faces have been joined by American import signing Becca Cardenas, with another two as-yet-unnamed players from the United States set to arrive in Sheffield imminently.

Other new players include Charley McGrath, who has represented Ireland at youth level, Cypriot Elysa Ioannou, Aisling Nee from Southern Ireland and Nicolette Fong Lyew, who has WBBL experience with the Manchester Mystics, where Naylor spent the 2020/21 season, and 2015-16 Play Off champions Northumbria (now Newcastle Eagles).

The Hatters are particularly excited about the potential of Southern Utah University graduate Cardenas and homegrown star Whitehouse, who has captained Great Britain U16s.

"We have had some amazing players in the past that have come and played for us and really made a name for themselves and we are expecting the same with Becca,” Sarah said.

“The club creates opportunities for girls in the city by having this team.

"If you don’t have this team, you don’t have opportunities.”

The Hatters have enough money to start the new campaign, but will need to continue fundraising to complete the season.

Sarah added: "When it comes to women’s sport people have all the right things to say but they need to put their money where their mouth is.”