This coming season sees the first School of excellence under 12 and under 14 girls’ teams. Girls’ have been taken through their paces over the past month at trials by Deirdre Hayes and various Eagles Community Foundation female coaches. Hayes, the England under 18 girls’ coach, took the trials at Westgate Centre for Sport so Head Coach Sarah Bennett could assess the girls. From these trials girls’ were selected for both squads.

The first session for the under 12’s was on the 28th May and for the under 14’s the 4th June. The under 12’s group will be working towards their own development and a schedule of friendly matches as there is no national league for this age group. The under 14 girls will be entering the national league and will be competing against other teams from across England. The competition is run with various triangular tournaments at a central venue taking place from September – April.

Sarah Bennett female basketball development officer said “It’s such an exciting time for girls’ basketball in the North East. With new sessions, leagues, camps and events and now there is their very own Newcastle Eagles School of Excellence. The programme of School of Excellence as the title suggests strives for excellence. We are looking for the best female basketball players in the area and developing them to enable them to reach their full potential. The overall aim is to have a set up mirroring the boys’ with under 12’s, under 14’s, under 16’s and then under 18’s. But obviously this is not an easy task and we have to start at the base and work our way up. My aim for the future is that we have our very own female basketball super star representing the Newcastle Eagles and hopefully our country.”

The under 12’s team will be training as a development squad. The individuals selected came from Ashington, North Tyneside, South Shields and Newcastle. The standard was very good with a few girls catching the coaches eye including Keldyne Field from North Tyneside who is 11 years old and is 5 foot 8 inches and has amazing athletic potential, Sariye Haznedaroglu from the West of Newcastle at only 10 years old showed amazing ball handling skills for her age, Lily Richardson from South Shields has amazing heart, desire and hussle and will go far in this sport.

The under 14’s will take the step into the England basketball National League. They will be competing against established programmes including Manchester Mystics and Sheffield Hatters. The future looks bright for these players. Certain individuals to look out for performing in the coming season include Amy Sutton who is 5’6” and has representing the area in the past at regionals. She has a lot of talent and as one of the most experienced players the girls will be looking to her to lead them. Another player to watch out for is Jenna Shaw, alongside Amy, Jenna represented the area in regionals at Lillishall she is from South Shields and started playing at ECF club South Shields All stars. Not to be out done by her father Paul who is an ECF coach or her brother Jack who already plays in the school of Excellence Bethany Honour shows that basketball is not just for the boys. Showing it can be done twice as good are twins Becky and Abby Shields. The girls who have come up through Westgate Hoopstars ECF club have so much potential and are definite stars of the future of womens’ basketball.