Fiona Mactaggart, MP for Slough received a master class from Team GB basketball stars this week during a special event in Parliament to promote the sport.
Great Britain men’s captain Drew Sullivan and Great Britain women’s national team star Johannah Leedham were on hand to show Fiona some ball skills, to discuss the recent successes of the national teams, as well as the potential of the sport to turn around the lives of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The successful event was organised by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Basketball. "Westminster is an odd place to Shoot hoops" said Fiona Mactaggart "but I know how important this sport is to many of my constituents, especially in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Slough. I have pressed the council on behalf of basketball and congratulate them for building new multi use games areas".
Leedham, who currently plays at the highest level of the women’s game in EuroLeague Women with Tango Bourges Basket and topped the assists chart at the prestigious EuroBasket Women 2013 added, “For me, basketball is a chance to give focus and direction - especially when young people encounter challenges in everyday life. It encourages discipline and structure, as well as being a precious outlet for releasing energy.
“Basketball did all of this for me while also being a means to develop my social and leadership skills. Basketball has given me opportunities and a life I could never have even imagined and without it, I really have no idea where I might have been today.”
Speaking after the event, Fiona said, “It was great to attend the APPG Basketball’s event. From what I heard today it’s clear that there’s a huge amount of untapped potential in the UK for basketball to flourish both as an elite level sport, and as a medium through which we can reach out to and boost the aspirations of young people from all kinds of backgrounds.”
Kevin Routledge, Vice Chairman of the British Basketball League Foundation, helped to organise the event with the assistance of the British Basketball League and was eager to ensure it had a real impact.
He explained, “This was a unique and important event in raising the profile of basketball in the most powerful location in the UK, and we’re really grateful to Fiona for her support.
“Anything we can do to raise awareness of the ability of basketball to affect positive change in communities across the country amongst policymakers is a positive step. I’m confident that the imminent report from the APPG on Basketball will further reinforce that message, and set out a clear strategy to allow the UK to harness the massive potential the sport has to change the lives of thousands of young people for the better.”