Kezia Dugdale: Let’s give basketball a hand – and not price youngsters out of the sport

Russian Matryoshka dolls of Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Lionel Messi of Argentina. Picture: Getty
Russian Matryoshka dolls of Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Lionel Messi of Argentina. Picture: Getty
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WITH the World Cup kicking off on Thursday, companies are trying to flog us giant 4K TV screens, half-time pizzas and reclining sofas so we can watch the matches in the comfort of our homes.

But as enjoyable as it is to watch the world’s greatest show, tournaments are also a fantastic opportunity to encourage participation in sport. I hope youngsters across the Capital want to recreate Messi and Ronaldo’s silky skills on their local playing field.

Football remains by far the country’s most played sport, yet basketball is now the second most popular team sport for 11 to 15-year-olds. It’s a period of continued growth and success for the sport, particularly in our city where we have a record of being really good at it.

That’s why I am so baffled by the city council’s proposed changes to hall hire prices, which could have a major negative impact on local basketball clubs.

With price increases of more than 250 per cent per hour for juniors, there is real risk that clubs will have to reduce their services or close down, and lower income families could be priced out of the sport.

I know council coffers are under pressure like never before. But the price of an unfit lazy generation is even higher. That’s why I have written to council officers in the hope that we can urgently find a solution that will allow basketball to continue growing.