A brave new era of cross-city cooperation has the potential to propel women’s basketball in Newcastle to the next level.
That’s the verdict of Eagles playcaller Noelia Cacheiro as she embarks on a close-season mission to help develop the game on and off the court.
The ambitious Spaniard doubles up as head coach for Newcastle University and led the students to their most successful BUCS season yet during the 2021/2022 campaign.
But after holding talks with her counterparts at Northumbria University, Cacheiro hopes a new model for basketball development on Tyneside can reap rewards.
“Things have changed a little bit in the last few weeks and months and I think there’s an opportunity for both universities to work together,” said the former Eagles’ guard.
“It hasn’t necessarily happened in the past but I’m confident we can coordinate this summer’s recruitment and employ a combined approach.
“We’re targeting a different audience and a different type of player right now but I think the coaching ethos is the same.
“By joining forces I think there’s a chance we could lay the foundations for future success.
“We’re experimenting with what we can achieve this summer and looking at the best approach for the universities and the Eagles.
“Moving forward I think both universities can feed into the WBBL team and we’ll see how things pan out in the next two seasons.
“What we need for women’s basketball in Newcastle is a solid base. The two universities working together is a strong starting point.”
Another ultimately frustrating Eagles’ campaign finished last month as Cacheiro’s short-handed roster failed to make the playoffs.
But as Newcastle’s coach looks ahead to a fresh start and a new season she can’t help but feel pride in the performances of her battling roster.
“I’m really, really proud of the way that everyone came on board and accepted the situation that we found ourselves in when I joined the club,” added Cacheiro.
“As a group, the players just got on with things and accepted that nothing or nobody was going to come and save them.
“That attitude and commitment is what I’m taking into this summer.
“The fighting spirit that we talked about so often towards the end of the season is the starting point for next season.”
Given the challenges and uncertainty around the controversial NCAA transfer portal this year — the means by which eligible student basketball players secure their US college places — Cacheiro is anticipating a tough summer of recruitment.
But she is keen to reach some key decisions sooner, rather than later, in a bid to ensure the Eagles tip off the season firing on all cylinders.
“I think for the next couple of years we’ll see a relative shortage of available players coming over from the US,” added Cacheiro.
“My job is to prepare as well as I possibly can and to put together a competitive WBBL team.
“I’ve already had a few conversations but I’m anticipating some late calls and last-minute moves.
“This time last year I had most of my Newcastle University team over the line but things are moving a lot slower 12 months on.
“I like to get my business done early if I can and I don’t like rushing things in the final few weeks before the start of the season.
“But like everyone else I’m having to adapt and adjust and do the best job that I can.”
Season tickets for the 2022-23 WBBL campaign are available now with Early Bird and Renewal offers on at the box office.