Covid 19 has caused severe problems for grassroots sports around Gloucestershire and the UK with prolonged periods without training or competitive play.
Many clubs have also suffered serious financial losses due to a lack of ticket sales and ongoing matches. But Basketball in Gloucestershire has taken a particularly bad hit due to the necessity of playing the sport indoors.
Several clubs in the county have not managed to play a competitive match since September because of the pandemic and many have lost access to sports halls and leisure centres essentially leaving them without a place to train or host home matches.
The secretary of the Gloucestershire Basketball Association Ian Greaves, who has spent over 55 years in the sport, witnessed the struggles of the clubs and spoke at length of the ‘desperation’ for the sides to simply find a place to play with half of the league losing access to their usual facilities.
He said: “The majority of teams play out of schools or colleges but over the summer they weren’t letting any external organisations in. We initially tried to get things up and running in October as it looked like the National Basketball league would also be starting up at that time.
“But then most of our teams had lost their courts and there was a mad dash to find some. One of our biggest clubs which is based at Gloucestershire college lost access to the court which meant three league teams had to find somewhere else.”
While the government have attempted to provide aid for grassroots basketball and smaller clubs, there have been calls for them to do more in Gloucestershire and Greaves is sympathetic to the cause.
“I don’t think there’s been enough done,” said Greaves. “There’s talk of grants now, but our league is going to be right down the food chain.
“It’s the fact that you have all these teams who have been paying a lot of money for access to sports halls for the last 10 or 15 years and then ‘tough luck, you’re out’ with no likelihood that they’re going to get back in any time soon.”
The outlook for grassroots basketball is looking bleak in Gloucestershire and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get better any time soon. While football, rugby and other outdoor sports are slowly returning to normal, indoor sports like basketball will continue to feel the brunt of the pandemic for some time.
“I can’t see grassroots basketball returning until April,” said Greaves. “Covid has really decimated the sport at local level and the fact that most of the country is in Tier 2 or 3 basically discounts any basketball at all. Even if you went to Tier 1 it would be back to six people so you still couldn’t play any league matches so that’s basketball finished for this year.”