An innovative partnership promoting the development of budding basketball players is building for the future.

Gateshead Housing Company and the Eagles Community Foundation are working together in a bid to persuade more children to try basketball.

And the ECF’s Gateshead Development Officer, Anthony Forrester, insisted the groundbreaking link-up is already reaping tangible rewards.

“In partnership with Gateshead Housing Company we’ll be delivering our Little Dribblers and

Hoops 4 Health programmes across the borough throughout the academic year,” he said.

“The Little Dribblers programme targets years one to four (ages five to nine) and makes basketball fun and inclusive.

“Seventeen schools across Gateshead have taken part with 12 committed to year-round delivery.

“They have bought into a whole school programme that encourages the children to get involved with extra-curricular activities too.

“The ECF’s partnership with Gateshead Housing Company makes this possible and has helped us to expand our reach year on year.”

Throughout 2018-19, 18 schools benefitted from the Hoops4Health programme which focuses on years five and six.

ECF coaches delivered 120 curriculum hours and hosted the first Gateshead tournament at the Eagles Community Arena earlier this year.

For the third time in four years Glynwood Primary School, based in Beacon Lough, Wrekenton, lifted the Gateshead Hoops 4 Health title.

And ECF Change For Life Officer Calvin George explained: “We deliver four hours of curriculum coaching within the school every week.

“That means every child involved in the Hoops 4 Health programme receives a minimum of 20 hours’ coaching per year.

“There is a strong relationship between Glynwood Primary and the Cardinal Hornets team, based at Cardinal Hume School.

“Children are encouraged to join the Hornets and play outside of school too.

“As such, it’s a shining example of how Hoops 4 Health can work and how Gateshead Housing Company’s support is making a genuine difference.”

Successful and effective exit routes into club basketball are at the heart of the ECF’s community programmes.

And Forrester added: “It’s all about creating the right environment and conditions for primary age children.

“We want them to enjoy playing basketball at school and then find a local club where they feel safe and comfortable in an inclusive environment.”

All the evidence points to a proven policy working more effectively than ever.

And the membership of all three established Gateshead community clubs has risen in the last year.

Cardinal Hornets (110), Kingsmeadow Royals (65) and Ryton Rockets (76) represents a collective yearly increase of 34% for affiliated basketball participation.

“I am proud of the relationships our organisation has built with both the primary and secondary schools in the Gateshead area,” said Sam Blake, Chief Executive Officer of the ECF.

“Increasing participation in this fantastic sport for all children aged between five and 18 is wonderful to see. But none of this would have been achieved without the ongoing support from The Gateshead Housing Company, for which we are extremely thankful.”

Martin Poulter, Business, Performance and Customer Services Manager at The Gateshead Housing Company, is a big fan of the health benefits associated with basketball.

“Health and wellbeing is key to achieving the Council’s aim to make Gateshead a place where everyone thrives,” he said.

“And the Hoops4Health programme is a great example of how we work in partnership to help address this issue among young people.

“The Gateshead Housing Company is committed to helping tackle health inequalities across the borough.”

The 2019-20 Hoops 4 Health programme is already underway across Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.

For more details and to get involved please contact Taylor Rendles at our Eagles Community Foundation on [email protected]ityfoundation.com