For only the second time ever, Great Britain will be represented at the 16th World Maxibasketball Championships, which are due to take place from 26 August to 3 September 2023 in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
GB Maxibasketball (GB Maxis) performance programme has begun preparations for the GB Men’s 40+, 50+, 55+ and GB Women’s 35+ and 45+ teams to take part in the tournament run by the International Maxibasketball Federation next summer. This will be four years on from Great Britain’s’ first appearance on the world stage in Espoo, Finland in 2019 at which time the nations’ first ever World Championship medal was won by the GB Maxis Women’s 50+ team.
GB Maxibasketball held open training sessions between August and November to enable former performance level players, from back in the day, to try the programme out for themselves in a bid to attain international honours in their age category. We are impressed with the depth and quality of players and staff who have since committed to make themselves available for World Championship selection to the five GB teams heading to the shores of Mar del Plata – ‘the Silver Sea’- in Argentina.
GB Maxibasketball men’s programme lead, Jesse Sazant, said:
“I am really excited about the opportunity to be part of GB Maxibasketball’s second entry to the World Championships, including our first entry of men’s teams [at this level]. The players and staff have committed to leave their egos at the door and build a high level performance programme. Argentina will be a great test to how we have grown since the European Championships as we compete for medals on a world stage.”
GB Maxis’ women’s’ programme lead, CJ Lee, was similarly enthused and took a birds eye view of the game, saying:
“With the news of GB Basketball Age Groups teams confirmed for the FIBA European Championships 2023, and on the eve of GB Senior Men’s World Cup tie against Serbia, this announcement is timely. It cements maxibasketball as part of the wider basketball community and showcases high performance across all generations. I’m really looking forward to seeing how GB Maxis will shape up, and I’m hungry for a podium place in Argentina.”
Players in the mix for World and European activity in 2023 and 2024 include the likes of former LA Lakers, GB & England power forward Steve Bucknall, former internationals George Branch, the legendary ex-Crystal Palace shooting guard Paul Stimpson, Brixton Topcats & ex-England guard Andrew Bailey, former BBL players Dave ‘TinTin’ Watts, Gareth Laws, the ever-youthful Keith ‘Peter Pan’ Pringle and defensive specialist Danny Badham-Ligiari. Basketball siblings Louise Cooke and Nick Cooke (based in AUS) also feature in their respective age group squads, as does former Avon Northampton shooting guard Justine Allpress (USA-based) and Cheshire’s Uche Ofili, who was a member of GB Maxis’ Silver-medal winning M35+ team at this years Europeans in Malaga. On hearing of the World championship entries, Steve Bucknall commented:
“GB Maxis have delivered a fantastic program that helps veteran ballers reconnect with old friends and to flex their new ambitions to represent their nation at competitive events. More importantly, it has proved to be an excellent and inclusive vehicle to bring the vets together so we can continue to engage in our basketball community. Although theoretically, the competition is less dynamic than it once was, it still reminds us that it’s never too late to adapt and increase your knowledge and skills of the game. GB Maxi Basketball is again aiming for medals in summer 2023 at the world championships in Argentina, where they will enter multiple teams.”
We of course look forward to the return of our European championship W35+ gold medalists into camp from January 2023, including current WBBL players Helen Naylor (Sheffield), Millie Watkins (Sevenoaks) and Sarah Wagstaff (Cardiff Met Archers) alongside national league player Rehana Khalil (Stockport) and ex-international Sarah Cooney, as they bid to convert their European gold to World championship gold. We know the opposition will be much tougher out in Argentina, as the host nation has already mentioned this to us…twice! Here’s what European gold medalist Helen Naylor had to say:
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the GB Maxis, it is a great way to still be able to represent your country and play at a high level as you get older. The environment the staff have created is professional, based on performance values we all share, and puts us in the best possible chance to be successful. There was lots of buzz around our gold medal in Malaga and I hope that has inspired others to consider joining the programme. I can’t wait for us to be tested at the world championships this summer in Argentina.”
GB Maxis’ Welsh contingent include Daniel Michaelson-Yeates, Danny Graves, James Dawe, Keith Kelly, Tony Berry as well as Cardiff’s Ruth Thomas and Sarah Wagstaff (already mentioned above). We asked Keith Kelly about his reflections and aspirations for the World Championships, and he said:
“I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Over-45s GB team that competed in the European Championships in Malaga this past Summer. The professionalism and support provided by the entire GB Maxibasketball programme, as well as the tournament itself, was first class and along with the bond formed between all of the players, only cemented my desire to keep going. Having now left the Over-45s behind due to my advancing age, I’m now focused on trying to earn selection for the Over 50s team that will compete in the World Championships in Argentina next Summer. I find myself doing so as ‘the youngster within the group’!. There’s a lot of hard work, and a long way to go before Argentina in what will surely be an even more challenging competition than the Euros… but I know myself and everyone else pushing for a spot on the plane will be giving it their all to succeed if selected.”
From Scotland, we are pleased to see the inclusion of a clutch of former international players including Scotland captain & GB international Iain Maclean, Falkirk Fury’s Scotty Russell, Frazer Birch and Stuart Glass (Strathclyde), Ann Jamieson, Elaine Montgomery (USA-based) and Shirley Campbell. Prolific shooter Donald Sampley (Ayrshire), Lee Phillips (Paisley), Michael Barry (SLBA) and Shirley White (Glasgow Eagles) are all set to come into camp for 2022/23.
Key to supporting the GB Maxis’ age group teams out in Argentina next year will be the presence and expertise of our terrific Sports Science & Medicine Team (SSM) led by the highly experienced GB Basketball physiotherapist, Dr. Mark Dayson, who is well used to traveling with national sports teams. He is also looking forward to the World Championship 2023 programme, and said:
“I have been fortunate to have been part of GB Basketball teams U16-U20 that have taken me to 11 European Championships across the continent, working with some truly inspiring athletes, parents and coaches. However, as with our skills and knowledge as an SSM Team, travel and age has no boundaries for GB Maxis’ Basketball and in August 2023 we will travel to Mar del Plata to compete in the FIMBA World Championships.
As the lead for the GB Maxis’ performance team, this programme has provided variety, lifelong friends and a process of learning that continues to motivate me more each day. I believe this offers great opportunities for both experienced and developing therapists and S&C staff, as well as the challenge of understanding how we prevent injuries and manage load for players aged 35 to 60+ years.
At championships we share treatment rooms that enable SSM staff to lean on one another for help, second opinions or further courtside support for greater development and exposure in a supported environment. We are essentially one very large, proud and professional team and I feel this quote from John Amaechi OBE suits our GB Maxis family well…. “the rewards of mutual success and shared vision will always outweigh those of individual accomplishment”.
Acknowledging that travel to Argentina may not be possible for everyone for a variety of reasons, GB Maxibasketball will also offer an additional programme in Europe for a further three categories M35+, M45+ and W50/55+. All competitions will of course help players gain valuable experience ahead of preparations for the European Maxibasketball Championships 2024, in Italy, where we would hope to field a full complement of male and female teams from 35+ to 60+.
Maxibasketball in the UK does not receive public funding. It is entirely funded by its participants and via fundraising and business sponsorships and marketing.
Businesses interested in partnering the GB Maxibasketball programme for the World & European Championship 2023 and 2024 international cycle can contact us on email@example.com