North East basketball stars of the future have scored a slam dunk by securing the support of two of the region’s largest shopping centres.

intu Metrocentre and intu Eldon Square are sponsoring the Rookie League, run by our Eagles Community Foundation, which is a turn up and play, fun and friendly way for kids in school years 1 through to 5 to get involved in playing basketball, keeping fit and staying healthy.

The intu Rookie League was launched in October 2017 and has proved incredibly popular, running weekly competitions at Gateshead Leisure Centre every Sunday for young players, before they graduate to represent their clubs at Central Venue League as under 12 players and progress into more affiliated club competition.

The league is designed to provide a platform for younger players to improve their skills in a fun, inclusive and pressure free environment. The children are able to develop at their own pace and in the appropriate game conditions pertinent to their age group.

As well as promoting the use of small sided games of 3 v 3 and 4 v 4, which maximises time on the ball and more regular decision making for each player, the league also ensures that children use the correct sized basketballs for their age. They also practice with adjustable baskets meaning that the children learn to shoot comfortably using the correct technique and their confidence is boosted by successfully scoring a basket.

Clare Cannon, community manager, intu North East, said “We’re delighted to support the Eagles Community Foundation in this exciting and worthwhile venture. As a company, intu is committed to the local community that it serves and this is a principle that is at the heart of the Newcastle Eagles and their Community Foundation.

“The intu Rookie League is a fantastic way to promote grassroots sport right here in the North East and it is wonderful to see the positive impact that it has on young players both in terms of their skills as well as their social development.”

Sam Blake, Chief Executive of our Eagles Community Foundation commented “The Eagles are extremely proud to have teamed up with intu Metrocentre and intu Eldon Square to provide the first competition platform in basketball for such a young age. These are exciting times for the foundation as we further expand our partnerships and outreach work whilst building our new community arena to be opened next year.

“The response from the children has been superb, with all players enjoying the sessions, benefiting from the supportive environment and learning to play with others, which has been integral to their social development. Many of the children have progressed to existing club sites in addition to playing in the intu Rookie League, which bodes well for their future development, and are progressing in all appropriate areas of the game.

“We are very grateful to intu for joining us on this journey and look forward to a partnership that will continue to benefit local people.”

Fab Flournoy, player and coach of our BBL team, added:

“It’s fantastic that, with the support of intu, children have the opportunity to come along and play the sport I love. Seeing them participate at such a young age means that it gives the coaches time to be able to develop their skills – who knows, one day you might see these young ladies and gentlemen playing professional basketball!”