BASKETBALL: WIRRAL HORNETS basketball club are celebrating after their biggest ever victory - off the court.
They are the first basketball club in Merseyside to reach Three Star level in the England Basketball Club accreditation scheme.
The award shows their continued commitment and enthusiasm to the development of the sport in Wirral and beyond.
Head coach Anthony Whitehead said: "Everyone here is really pleased to receive three star accreditation, especially as we are leading the way on Merseyside. It shows that we do things properly here and that both parents and sponsors can put their faith in the club and how it is run."
The club has been running for around 20 years in different shapes and forms and currently operates 10 teams for its members, who number in the high 80s. Those teams range from junior right up to senior level.
"Our under 16 boys are in the national league, as are our under 16 girls, with the senior men in the Merseyside first, second and third divisions and the women in the first division," said Anthony. "The men also play in a national cup and the North Wales league too.
"As well as the playing staff, all of our coaches are fully qualified which played a big part in us receiving the three star accreditation. I am a level four coach, but we also have people at level three, two and one, and all of us have been police checked too.
"During the assessment we had to fill out all kinds of documentation like whether we had enough referees in the club, or table officials, as well as seeing how we communicated to our players and their parents for the juniors. Thankfully everything came up to scratch and we made it through.
"Now we plan to build on our new level and continue to expand the club in the future."
Although they already have established links with several schools, Anthony said he hopes to take the sport into primary schools in Wirral with the aim of setting up teams at under 13 and under 11 levels.
He said: "Basketball is becoming more and more popular with children of all ages who will have seen it on television or the internet, while several schools in Wirral have new sports halls that they are using to play the game in.
"From my experience I would say that kids in Wirral and Merseyside have a lot of talent and aptitude for the sport, boys and girls. We have some former junior England players in the club and hope to see some more follow in their footsteps.
"We also accept players from all over Merseyside to come and play for us, because they will have the chance to just play for fun or at the highest level for their age in national competition."
To find out more about Wirral Hornets, visit the club's website at www.wirralhornets.com