Pentland Star Women’s basketball club signed off last season as champions of Lothian League Division One – a target they had set from the very beginning.
However, while the squad spent the summer break relishing their title glory, they also faced some tough decisions regarding the future direction of the club.
A desire to enter the national league set-up had been expressed by some individuals of the team towards the end of last season, an interest enhanced by the performances on the court which not only produced a 100 per cent league record, a triple crown was also secured with victories in a further two cup competitions.
Enthusiastic club captain, Veronica Walls, was certainly keen to make the jump to a higher standard and test the squad’s ability in a more challenging environment. After several discussions with the Capital club’s personnel, a positive decision was finally reached for Star to enter the National League for season 2012/2013.
Walls said: “There were six or seven of us who said we needed to go for this. We thought if we went back to the local league again then it wouldn’t be much of a challenge, so we bust our backsides to make it happen. We had confirmation that our coach from Spain would be arriving in late August and it’s probably been one of the best decisions we have made.
“It was quite difficult in the beginning trying to find venues for two training sessions per week, but at the moment we are training on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Holy Rood high school. The more training we do the better but it’s a lot of fun and we are always learning new things, so it’s been really good.
“It is a bit more money each month we have to pay out, but we have some sponsorship money which helps out with things like referee costs.”
Star acquired the services of Spanish coach Pablo Sanchez for their new venture which, according to Walls, has so far proved to be a bold move by the club. Despite having only achieved one league victory from their seven played, Walls says there is an air of confidence spreading throughout the squad with Sanchez determined to get things right on the court.
“With Pablo, our training sessions are intense and there’s always something new we are learning. He is very insistent on things being done right and if we are not doing it right he will stop. We didn’t expect to be near the top of the league but with each game and training session we are improving. If you don’t want to challenge yourself then what’s the point in playing?
“We had a slow start against St Mirren, which was our first game, but I think we were all very nervous. The physicality of the defence was also a bit of a shock to us but as the games have progressed, we have been getting better. We had our first win away to Tayside and won by 20 points, so that was a good boost for us.”
Already plotting beyond the current campaign, Walls believes Star will be better equipped next year to handle the demands of the game at national level.
She added: “Most of our girls are relatively young so I expect them to be here next season as well. It’s about trying to adjust to it all and taking it step-by-step, so I expect us to do better.”