Basketball Scotland’s Future Starz programme, entering its third year, is already bearing fruit in terms of producing young players who have gone on to compete on the international circuit.
The programme’s first national camp for season 2013/2014 recently tipped off at Armadale Academy with over 330 youngsters, aged between 11 and 14, from across the country in attendance. This was the highest figure recorded since the scheme’s debut season began in 2011. With the programme still considered to be in its fledgling stages, it remains difficult to forecast exactly how successful it will prove to be in the long-term.
Nevertheless, as player development manager Luis Romero explained the process from the first camp in Armadale at the end of October, he also disclosed that the potential rewards of the programme became that little bit clearer towards the end of the summer, with several of its graduates flourishing on the international stage.
Romero said: “We seem to have had more success with the girls at this moment in time. For example, we had five female players who started in Future Starz a few years ago who won a silver medal at the European Championships for Scotland in the summer. That was a huge success and amazing to see.
“We lost the final game in Cyprus but we won the silver medal so we were so pleased. These girls are now ambassadors and role models for the younger generation of today’s programme. When they visit the regional sessions, they are recognised and the younger ones know that they won the silver medal, so it’s fantastic. But this year we are hoping to have something similar with the boys.
“Armadale was the first of three regional camps we have throughout the season. We had 140 girls on the Saturday and 196 boys on the Sunday. We put them through ten different stations over the course of the weekend, including strength and conditioning, one v one situations, fast break and so on. We also had some psychological advice and something what we call footwork sessions.
“We had more than 515 applications for this year’s programme but we’re only allowed to select around 350 kids. We have trial sessions around the country in the last week of September at our eight regional development centres, but the programme is open to 56 kids from each region.
“We do, however, have two in Edinburgh because of the population and that basketball is quite popular throughout the city. We then select those who show the most potential and give them a place on the programme.”
The aim is that more youngsters, upon leaving the programme after turning 15, will come through to achieve success in national, European and world competitions, and possibly even bring themselves into contention for selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast City.
Romero has seen the overall quality improved annually, and has high hopes that the scheme will go from strength to strength. He added: “We adapt the programme every year and to the qualities of the players. Every year, though, we have found the quality to be better in the Future Starz programme.
“The first year was extremely basic and was all about the fundamentals of basketball, but we’re now working more on the individual qualities of the players.
“The initial Talent Development Programme in 2011 had just 40 players on it so this shows how far the Future Starz programme has come in such a short period. We hope to expand these numbers even more for next year.”