Basketball may be one of the most popular sports across the pond but the game is still growing in the UK. In Scotland, there's just one team playing professionally – Glasgow Rocks – who play in the British Basketball League. However, the good news is that the game is on the rise across the country and there are now leagues across a wide range of age groups and schools in Scotland.
In Perthshire, we have our own basketball club – Perth Phoenix. Formed in 2003 by a group of locals, the club has gone from strength to strength and regularly provides players for the national squads. There are now over 100 players playing across all age groups, with a total of five coaches and 17 volunteers. There are both boys’ and girls’ teams, as well as the senior men’s team.
The club’s head coach and chairman is Russel Kesson, one of my former PE teachers at Perth Grammar School. He is also responsible for bringing the game to the school too and I remember playing for his team during my secondary school years. He was one of the original founders of Perth Phoenix and he has seen the club evolve remarkably since its early days.
“I was fortunate to be around when it started and was the first coach of the club. We started with one men's team then and have now progressed into six youth teams plus a men's team.
“We now have four national league teams competing. The club has come a long way and we’ve had some ups and downs in terms of the teams we've been able to offer but we're growing again which is great.”
Perth Phoenix has achieved a lot of success since its formation – both in terms of team results and the different players who have gone on to represent their country. Russel has coached Phoenix in two Scottish Cup finals, two National Challenge finals and to the National League play-off finals. It’s fast-paced and exciting, and the games are usually very high scoring. Along with this great club coaching pedigree, he also coached Scotland at three European Championships. He leads a fantastic coaching set-up at Phoenix, and would love to see more youngsters come along to the sessions held locally at Perth Academy and Perth High School.
“Basketball is a great sport for young people. It’s fast-paced and exciting, and the games are usually very high scoring. Many of the players and coaches from Perth Phoenix have had the opportunity to travel abroad and visit many countries through basketball, and we have a great record of producing players that represent Scotland at all age groups. We’re a very supportive club, and we always welcome to players to get involved.”
One example of a player Perth Phoenix has produced locally is Erynn Legge. She first attended the club as a cop out from shopping with her mum, and has since gone on to represent her country and move to play for the West Lothian Wolves. Erynn will soon be heading to play and train for CB Nou Esplugues in Barcelona, embarking on another exciting chapter that all started at Perth Phoenix.
“I was 10 years old and my older brother was a player and coach for Perth Phoenix. To save me going shopping with my mum, he told me to go along to one of his U14 training sessions and I’ve been playing ever since!
“My goal is to continue to play in Spain for a couple of seasons but I definitely aim to progress to become a professional player.”
Perth Phoenix train throughout the week and are running mixed teams at U12 and U14 level, U16 girls, and U16, U18 and senior men’s teams. So, if you fancy yourself as Scotland’s answer to Michael Jordan or LeBron James, then make sure you go along and show Russel and his team what you’ve got!
For more information on the different teams at Perth Phoenix, contact the club secretary Arlene Legge on the club’s Facebook page.
Keep your eyes peeled for our full interview with Erynn Legge next week as she gets ready to jet off to Spain to continue her glittering basketball career!
Live Active Leisure has launched a new campaign encouraging the residents of Perth and Kinross to ‘Travel the World with LAL’.
May 27th Wednesday 2020
Chrystal Matthan is the 24 year old netball player from Perth who was recently selected for the Scottish Thistles Long Squad!
February 27th Thursday 2020
Foundation trustee Charlie Gallagher recently handed over a £2000 cheque to Academy head of youth development Alistair Stevenson.
January 31st Friday 2020