I had a very warm welcome last week at Cardiff Archers Basketball Club.

The club’s 20 teams – ranging from under 10s to senior players – practice and train several nights a week at the Archers Arena, part of the Cardiff Metropolitan University Cyncoed campus. The arena, opened 2 years ago, has given the club the space it needs to be able to welcome in hundreds of players and offer opportunities for fitness, training and coaching at every level.

During my visit there were several girls’ and boys’ teams training and preparing for upcoming games.

I met with Women’s Head Coach, and British basketball’s most-capped ever player, Stef Collins, along with Director of Basketball Duncan Mackenzie and representatives from Basketball Wales and Cardiff Met’s sports broadcasting and sports coaching programmes.

Basketball is a very accessible sport and I was really pleased to see that the club’s members are a diverse group, coming from right across Cardiff and beyond to train. The club also benefits from a number of strong female role models in the coaching team who encourage and support young women to get involved and keep playing.

Across the UK, basketball is gaining a focus as an important sport to develop, and earlier this year my Labour Parliamentary colleague Alex Sobel MP held a debate on funding for basketball in the UK, particularly highlighting the important social benefits of making the sport accessible. You can read more about the debate here.

The Archers’ various teams play their league home games at the arena and the games are open to the public to watch for a small charge. Most of the games are on Saturdays, and you can keep up with the club and find out details of upcoming games on their website.

Stef was kind (and patient!) enough to coach me through scoring a basket, and you can watch the resulting success here:

It is brilliant that Cardiff Central is home to such a vibrant, friendly club enjoying playing sport together, whether socially or with a view to training at professional level. The community feel runs throughout the club, with teenage and student players starting their coaching qualifications by working with the younger teams, and taking the opportunity to learn from world-class players like Stef Collins who is based at the club.

To find out more, or join the club, visit their website.

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