They are a unique basketball team heading to their first global championships, and we’re a team with a global reputation and unique services. Now, CCL and the basketballers are combining forces – we’ve become the first headline sponsor supporting Team GB Women’s Masters Basketballers at the FIMBA World Maxibasketball Championships taking place at Espoo, by Helsinki in Finland from 25 July – 4 August, 2019.
We had a chat with Team GB members Hazel Shaw and Sadie Mason, to learn more about the team and Espoo FIMBA, and find out what what’s great about playing basketball at Masters level.
Q: How did you find your way into basketball?
In common with many girls, Sadie played netball at school. But when her geography teacher persuaded the school to introduce basketball, she found her passion. “I loved it straight away,” she says, “and I ditched netball as soon as I could! Basketball was so much more exciting and more inclusive.” Sadie went on to play locally for Newham in East London and was picked up by the South East England squad, and then the national team, representing England at Under 15s, Under 17s and Under 19s level, and captaining the Under 19s.
Espoo FIMBA 2019 won’t be Sadie’s first experience playing for Great Britain. She won her first GB cap in 1983 at the World University Games in Canada, and followed this with selection to the GB Pre-Olympic senior basketball team in 1984 (Cuba), and the World University Games in 1985 (Japan) and in 1987 (Croatia). She went on to appear a further 39 times for England Seniors at home nations and European Championships between 1981 and 1995.
Hazel was a netball player throughout her school days. She found basketball late in the day, whilst on her degree course at Sheffield University. But like Sadie, it immediately hooked her. She says, “I began playing regularly, getting into local league when I moved to Leicester.” As her confidence and capability grew, Hazel worked her way up to national league.
Their years of playing basketball at national level gave both Sadie and Hazel opportunities that would not have come their way without the game. They’ve met fellow basketballers from all over the world, seen countries they would not otherwise have expected to visit and gained exposure to many different cultures.
Q: Where did the idea for Team GB Women’s Masters Basketball come from?
Attending another basketball tournament and chatting with the players, Sadie had been surprised to learn that no British team, men’s or women’s, had ever been to a world Masters championship. She says, “When I found out about FIMBA, I just knew we had to get involved, so in 2018 (after Great Britain became a member of FIMBA), I asked the chair of the GB Masters Association if they would allow access to their teams on email, and we put a call out, inviting every female player aged over 40 registered with the GB Masters Association to a training session.”
Over 40 people showed up for those introductory sessions – more than enough to form two ladies’ teams, in the 40+ and 50+ categories. But that was just the start. To get teams to FIMBA in Finland in summer 2019 is no small undertaking. The players have to be able to give up two weeks of their holiday time to the championship and fund their own travel, accommodation, kit and more. And they have to be fit. That means training – hard – not only together at their training sessions every other month in Leicester, but at home in their regular teams and on their own personal fitness programmes.
Q: How did you get involved with CCL?
Disappointingly, there was no funding available for the Women’s team from the GB Masters Basketball Association. Nor was the British Basketball Federation able to assist, due to their limited government funding being focused on their mainstream junior and senior national teams. So the team set about constituting itself, to open the door to funding from elsewhere and of course, sponsorship. That’s where CCL came in.
As we know only too well at CCL, it’s not just what you know, but who…
Rudee Bertie and Hazel were childhood friends and stayed in touch over the years. When Rudee heard that Hazel and the team were looking to raise sponsorship to enable Team GB Women’s Masters to get to the FIMBA World Championships, he was delighted to get CCL involved, becoming the team’s first headline corporate sponsor.
Rudee is enthusiastic about the opportunity the women’s team is seizing. He notes, “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to support Team GB Women’s Maxibasketballers representing Great Britain for the first time on the global stage. We can’t wait to follow their development over the coming months and will be rooting for them at the World Championships.”
The team in turn has been delighted to get CCL’s sponsorship, which has provided the team playing strip for everyone. Says Hazel, “Getting sponsorship of this magnitude has been fabulous for the team, and very motivational. More than that, it’s demonstrated so effectively that we can all make the most of the connections we have – that everybody can do their bit in meeting our funding target.”
Now that’s a sentiment that we at CCL can wholeheartedly endorse – life is all about connections!
Q: What can the team expect from the Espoo FIMBA 2019 experience?
The ladies are enthusiastic about the Championship event, which is a great opportunity to meet, network and make friends with like-minded people, passionate about their sport, from across the world. Events like this are sociable and fun. But front-and-centre is the sport, and the opportunity to represent your country at a world championship. The competition is serious.
Worth saying, the opportunity to represent your country doesn’t come along every day. Notes Hazel, “It’s very exciting to be involved. When I stopped playing national league, I never dreamed I’d be able to represent Great Britain at a world class tournament again.” And world class it certainly is. There are no less than 200 teams registered to play at Espoo FIMBA 2019, coming from all over the globe.
Hazel is looking forward to the atmosphere, and to being involved right from the start, from flying over as a team, staying in the same hotel, enjoying the opening ceremony – the whole experience. Sadie too is excited about the global perspective of the event. A passionate advocate for women in sport, she notes, “I’m looking forward to seeing all the women and men together at the opening ceremony, on equal status, from every country, proudly wearing their national tops.
“For Great Britain to be immersed in this, and for us to be the first women’s team, is sensational, and I can’t wait for other people to see and appreciate this.”
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Sadie Mason MBE, is Team GB Masters Women’s Coordinator and former international player. She is also Chief Executive at Active Sussex, a county sports partnership which co-ordinates and implements initiatives aimed at engaging the most inactive sectors of the population, including children aged 14-19, people on low incomes, older people and the disabled. After her playing career ended, Sadie managed the England and GB Under 18 basketball team for 7 years. She also volunteered at the Olympics in London in 2012. In 2014, she was awarded an MBE for services to sport, receiving her honour at Buckingham Palace from Prince William.
Hazel Shaw is Head of PE at Moat Community College in Leicester and CEO of Children’s Weight Management Service at SHaW Control Ltd, a company she founded herself around 10 years ago. Today her business runs lifestyle-change days, summer and residential camps and activity weeks, designed to combat the decline in children’s fitness and the rising childhood obesity epidemic. Her approach is geared to developing both fitness and confidence. With funding a constant challenge, Hazel is keen to connect with organisations able to support her activities and help children enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle.
FIMBA: The Federation of International Masters Basketball, organisers of the European and World Masters Basketball Championships. The 15th FIMBA World Maxibasketball Championships (https://espoofimba2019.fi/) runs from 25 July to 4 August 2019, in the city of Espoo, Helsinki, Finland.
Team GB Women’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TeamGBMaxiball2019/
Team GB Women’s GoFundMe page: https://uk.gofundme.com/help-get-team-gb039s-maxiballers-on-the-world-stage
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