A FANTASTIC prize is on offer this week to encourage aspiring players at the country’s largest basketball camp.
Since Monday children aged seven up to 18 have been taking part in the five-day residential training camp run by BiG Storage Cheshire Jets to pick up new skills.
And there is a big incentive to perform as the most valuable player on the camp wins a place on a five-star basketball camp in Pennsylvania.
Cheshire Jets’ Pete Hawkins said: “We’re the only camp in the UK to offer that. We make it enjoyable but the main purpose is that every camper goes away a better player than when they came.
“If you’re a young person with a professional basketball player teaching you, that’s a big incentive.”
Children from across Britain, as well as Europe and America, have signed up to take part in the huge camp. The 170 children are staying in converted dormitories at Ellesmere Port Catholic High School, with games taking place at Sutton High.
The days run from 9am until 9pm and include skills stations, working on both the physical and mental side of basketball, and competitive games.
Leading a national team of coaches, many of whom are former campers from 10 or 15 years ago, are Jets head coach Paul Smith and Jets legend Richard Murphy.
Significantly, new signing Chuck Evans flew in for the week to pass on his skills – and get familiar with the Jets set-up.
Hawkins said: “It’s really getting him to meet the management, coaching staff and the physios, so he’ll be doing that as well.”
With three different age groups, the children are giving it their all to win, with the overall winner getting the Pennsylvania trip.
The camp is also beneficial to British basketball and hopefully to the Jets too. It not only increases their community profile which they are working very hard to raise, but will also hopefully encourage young talent into the professional ranks of BiG Storage Cheshire Jets one day.
And with two young Great Britain internationals at the camp, there is no shortage of talent.
Hawkins added: “The most important thing is that every child sees the opportunity. They get to 18 then go to the Amercian system, at which point they are lost to British basketball, but with this they can stay in the area and aren’t lost to the Jets.
“We don’t turn anyone down – it’s based on ability and we coach around the standards of the children.”
The captain of Chester University basketball team is also involved in coaching at the camp, improving the links already forged through the basketball degree on offer at the university.