Return to Play Getting Closer

West Brom Basketball Club director Liam Sheridan says that the players are ‘excited’ to return to competitive action in the coming months – as restrictions on grassroots sport begin to lift.

There has only been very limited basketball been played in the UK over the course of the past 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only BBL and National League Division One level teams able to train and play.

However, with restrictions finally beginning to ease, grassroots clubs can now begin to organise themselves ahead of their return to play – potentially beginning later on this month with outdoor sessions.

The current government roadmap states that outdoor sessions can be organised in the final week of March, with a return to indoor sessions for adults in mid-May.

Sheridan says that the Black Country side are excited about news of a return.

“The club are really excited about the potential return this summer. Obviously, the government have laid out their steps for returning to normality and we’re really excited that the end is in sight, so to speak.” he said.

“In terms of our plans, between the coaching staff we’re discussing potential outdoor sessions at the end of this month, if things go as planned.

“We obviously have to contend with the weather which is unpredictable, but we should be looking to get back to outdoor sessions soon.

“The middle of April is hopeful when leisure facilities can start opening up, so we’ll start negotiating with those facilities that we use about if and when we can get back in, which will obviously get us back inside and back to running more of our normal sessions.

“Then later on in the government’s plan is obviously adult sports activity resuming. Hopefully, that will go ahead as planned and as long as the leisure centres are open, and stay open, no doubt by the summer-time we’ll be back to running regular indoor sessions for all of our age groups.”

West Brom Basketball Club run a number of varying age groups at competitive levels, with the senior men’s team previously participating in the West Midlands Basketball League (WMBL) Premier Division. With the club preparing for a return, there have been tentative talks over considerations for the 2021/22 season.

One of those leagues is the YBL, although plans currently suggest that West Brom’s senior side will likely be remaining in the WMBL – development teams could be set to enter the YBL however.

“In terms of leagues, we’ve had a few meetings with the YBL around what they see happening and from discussions with them, essentially next season the YBL will return as normal.”

“As far as the West Midlands Basketball League goes, we haven’t had too much communication yet, but like the rest of us I’d assume that they’re making plans, with a lot of talks behind the scenes and what that will look like.

“I still anticipate us entering West Midlands Basketball League at Premier and Division One level. Depending on the number of players we have, potentially Division Two.

“The plan is to have development teams in YBL leagues as before. Obviously, that could change depending on how leagues look. We want to make sure everyone is playing at the right level.”

Many players across the country have been unable to train properly with the closure of gyms, but Sheridan has no hesitation that players across age groups will be keen to get right back into the action.

He believes that current and prospective players are now seeing the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ regarding a return to playing – with many having a tough time coping with the inability to compete on-court.

“From the players’ perspective, from those that I’ve spoken to, I think the fact that there’s light at the end of the tunnel now, of course we have dates, they may happen on those dates or they may get pushed back, but I think the fact that there’s a plan to come out of this and return to basketball is great for the players – particularly some of the juniors I’ve spoken to.

“It’s been a tough time and over the course of the past 12 months some of the players have lost a little bit of hope of getting back to things, but the news is very welcome for all of us.

“We’re all excited to get back to doing what we do as players and coaches. We do what we do out of passion so we’re all super excited to getting back to that in the near future.

“Of course, the last thing we all want, not just the basketball community but the country, is to get back into what we’re doing and then having to stop again or taking some backwards steps.

“We all need to do our bit to make sure that the steps we’re taking forward don’t come back to hurt us and result in us moving backwards.

“Obviously last summer we had allowance to get back to activities, then we had to reduce group sizes which we adjusted to and made it work, then we had to stop. So we’re very excited to get back, excited to be seeing everyone throughout the club very soon, but I just want to make sure that we try and avoid the stop-start nature of the last year.

“We’ll have to see how it goes, but we’re very excited about the news and excited to be back on court soon.”