How Glasgow is bettering lives through basketball

Credit: GUWBC

Kieran Dowling
Writer

Kieran Dowling explains GUBC’s social outreach programme.

Glasgow University Basketball Club’s Social Outreach Programme reaches out to young, vulnerable children and teenagers in the wider community of Glasgow, and uses basketball as a means of facilitating their development. Our programme functions through a few major projects such as: organising various outreach events, implementing basketball programmes in schools, and hosting skill-development and mentorship programmes for players in the community.

Govan School of Basketball

Our largest project is the “Govan School of Basketball”, whereby our very own Glasgow University Basketball Club players and coaches volunteer each week to deliver basketball sessions to high school students from deprived areas of Glasgow. Since the beginning of the 2019/20 academic year, our “Govan School of Basketball” initiative has been introduced to 10 primary schools in the southside of Glasgow. It is a five-year programme, constructed to increase basketball participation and foster children’s basketball potential from primary to their last years of secondary school.

The first year of the programme, this year, includes coaches delivering fun basketball sessions to children in their last year of primary school in the Govan High School catchment area, one to two times a week – to inspire and enthuse young children about the sport of basketball. This will allow us to choose a group of enthusiastic players from these surrounding primary schools when they arrive to Govan High School and continue developing their skills throughout secondary school. Giving these children the chance to learn a new sport at such a young age, we provide them with an opportunity to grow, learn, and be inspired to achieve more. This is especially salient in our targeted school as they possess a high dropout rates (at the age of 16) – many of whom do not have plans to further themselves academically or in a vocational setting. We use basketball as a tool to encourage young people to become engaged in something positive, and to develop the invaluable skills that come from participation in sports, such as commitment, hard work, teamwork, and social skills.

As well as empowering these young children, the School of Basketball Programme also intends to empower our young coaches by providing them with training, coaching qualifications and mentoring, to ensure that they develop valuable leadership skills to deliver the sessions with confidence.

Glasgow University Cubs

Once players have gone through each of the five years of the programme, they will be offered the opportunity to play for the Glasgow University Cubs Team. This a youth basketball team, coached by students and coaches within Glasgow University, which gets players that have completed the Govan School of Basketball to continue playing basketball. A mentorship scheme will also run parallel to this aspect of the programme, to give guidance to players with regards to the next steps in life after school, such as support in university applications or developing a CV.

Outreach Events

GUBC host one-off events throughout the year, which include tournaments and training camps, such as our Christmas Classic Tournament in which we hosted eight U14 teams from all around Scotland. We also plan to hold Easter/Summer Camps to give kids in the community the experience of competition and an opportunity to improve their fundamental skills.

DUNK

DUNK is an NGO, based in Accra, Ghana. The charity works with children and young adults in Jamestown and Nima – two of the most disadvantaged communities in Accra. They aim to nurture young people, providing them with basketball tuition, life skills training, and academic support. The main centre at Jamestown consists of a library for the students to receive after-school academic tutoring, an office, a basketball court, a sewing classroom for young mothers and an Art Space for the children to express themselves. DUNK has over 200 children registered with them. The registered children receive free basketball coaching and get two library sessions a week, organised by school year, to support them in their studies. Some of these children are sponsored through DUNK’s “sponsor-a-child” programme. However, any child is welcome to play at DUNK’s facilities and they hold open library sessions every day, which anyone can attend to receive academic support or just a quiet place to read and do homework.

Glasgow University Women’s Basketball Club (GUWBC) first became involved with DUNK in 2018, when one of our members went to volunteer as a basketball coach over summer. Since then, GUWBC have worked to create a partnership with DUNK. Last academic year, the club’s committee focused on this relationship-building, and fundraised £700 for DUNK, as well as supporting them through social media. Last summer, two players from GUWBC and three from Glasgow University Men’s Basketball Club, visited Accra for a month, coaching basketball and supporting the delivery of various workshops in the library. They had a truly amazing experience in Accra and learnt invaluable lessons, not just about basketball coaching but also about the use of sport as a tool for empowerment and how the motivation and drive of individuals can create positive changes. Some of the volunteers at DUNK are young Ghanaians, a similar age to our volunteers – this was particularly inspiring and educational to watch them interact with the children and learn about their commitment to affecting community change.

In the future, it is the club’s intention to not only fundraise further, but also to create a sustainable Volunteer Partnership through which we would provide DUNK with volunteer coaches each year. We believe that this is beneficial not only for DUNK, who look forward to hosting volunteers as it helps them to create global connections and reach an international audience, but also allows more Glasgow University students to witness and contribute to DUNK’s incredible work in person. We are also hoping to host the charity co-founder, Mohammed Tahir, in Glasgow next year, so he can raise awareness and consolidate and widen relationships in Scotland. We want to create the foundations for a strong relationship so that the partnership can continue long after our current students graduate.

While basketball is the focus of the charity, they welcome volunteers from an array of backgrounds with different skill sets to support their work. If you would like more information about DUNK or our involvement with them, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at [email protected]