Basketball Ireland is rolling out ambitious plans for 8 to 10 Centres of Excellence, which will be located nationwide.
NUI Galway and Ulster University in Jordanstown are the first two Centres of Excellence to be confirmed, having signed an agreement with Basketball Ireland this month.
Talks are ongoing with a number of other third-level institutions, with further announcements in due course.
Each Centre of Excellence will provide access to expertise, such as strength and conditioning, sports medicine, sports psychology, diet and nutrition, sports management and administration, coach development and training. They will also have media and meeting facilities.
The Centres of Excellence will be used for national training camps for international sides, along with Basketball Ireland academies. There will also be the ability to host international fixtures, national senior competitions, intervarsity competitions, as well as local schools cups and blitzes.
Sport for Business caught up with Bernard O’Byrne from Basketball Ireland, Mike Heskin from NUI Galway and Nigel Dobson from Ulster University to find out what now and what the initiative will deliver.
“These Centres of Excellence are a major infrastructural initiative by Basketball Ireland to deliver world-class facilities and will give our international players and teams the best chance of success when they compete,” said O’Byrne.
“These Centres of Excellence will be geographically spread, meaning there will be top of the range resources available to local basketball communities in every corner of the country. We want everyone participating in the sport to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. We have seen a surge in interest in basketball in Ireland and we are determined to continue its growth.”
“We are very excited about this new partnership with Basketball Ireland’s High-Performance Programme,” added Heskin.
“The University has been developing partnerships with a number of the High-Performance Sport programmes in Ireland, involving both domestic and Olympic sports. We are certain these partnerships will prove hugely beneficial to our University athletes, by providing a clear pathway for them to achieve their athletic goals. We are especially delighted to be in partnership with Basketball Ireland to build on the existing relationship, which has provided Olympians in our recent past.”
“At Ulster University we are passionate about performance and helping people fulfil their potential. We have a long history in basketball, with a number of international players coming through the university, including Emer Howard, Deirdre Brennan, Gareth Maguire, Adrian Fulton and more recently Alex Mulligan and the Quinn twins, Conor and Aidan,” concluded Dobson.
“Ulster University has also been competing in the men’s and women’s National League since 2005/06 season. This partnership with Basketball Ireland for a Centre of Excellence at our Jordanstown campus builds upon the great work of Patrick O’Neill, our joint basketball development officer and continues our joint pursuit of excellence in the sport.”
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