New era dawns for Lions with university link-up

The sport of basketball in Teesside has taken a major step forward with the announcement of a long term partnership between Teesside Lions and Teesside University.

In addition to the Lions delivering coaching for the University British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) team, the two organisations are looking to strengthen a foundation that will benefit students and the community with a pathway to elite basketball via lions community and junior national league teams into the university programme and onto the professional system of Teesside Lions senior national league team.

Teesside Lions senior men’s coach James Thomson will fulfil the role of Director of Basketball for the University and lead coaching for the BUCS team, but there has also been emphasis placed on additional teams within the university and opportunity for recreational play for students.

Off the court plans are also in place to enhance opportunities for training and accreditation of sport officials to ensure the long term future of basketball and support expansion.

George Reeves, President Activities at Teesside University Students’ Union who are responsible for organising student sport, played a pivotal role in forming the partnership. He is confident basketball is in safe hands, adding:

“Following a number of meetings with James Thomson, it was clear we were on the same wave length regarding the development of basketball at Teesside University. I welcome the opportunity to partner with an established club with strong community links. Their ambitious plans to bring professional basketball to the area is a great boost for our students and the University in general.

“Basketball is a popular sport on campus and I believe it will grow significantly over the coming years, especially with the implementation of the proposed framework. It will provide a pathway for attracting students in to Teesside University and on to elite level playing opportunities within BUCS and the Lions National League team.”

Previous captain Greg Hardy, who graduated this year, has now passed on the baton to Josh Foster with both individuals keen on the prospect of lions leading the programme.

Greg, 22, is from Stockton and a forensic psychology graduate. He was an influential figure during his term as captain. Greg is now looking forward to seeing the team grow, stating:

“To leave the club in a place where the new committee can build a new and exciting partnership with the Lions is excellent news for all involved. There is a sense of optimism and determination among the committee and players. I am certain that, under the direction of James Thomson, they will do a great job of revitalising the University Basketball experience.”

“The partnership shows ambition from both sides and is an exciting opportunity for our students to be a part of.”

Josh Foster, 27, spent seven years in the military prior to attending Teesside University to study product design. The new captain, who is originally from Scunthorpe, is honoured to be leading the team in to what he believes will be an exciting era for all members of the university basketball community, adding:

“I am pleased that Teesside University Basketball has officially partnered with Teesside Lions and I am looking forward to being coached by James Thomson. During the summer, I was fortunate to have been invited to train with the Lions and, in a short space of time, I feel this has greatly developed my ability and increased my understanding of the game.”

“The coaching standards and structure delivered by Coach Thomson and the other Lions staff has been of a very high standard. I am looking forward to implementing this into our university programme to create a more structured, talented and professional squad. The future of Teesside Uni Basketball has never looked so bright.”

In addition to the men’s first team, the partnership will dedicate time and energy into developing additional teams that will compete in the successful Tribal League which is operated by Teesside Lions. The aim will be to enter an initial two teams in to the Friday Night League to provide competitive matches and an enjoyable experience for students.

There will also be opportunities for students who enjoy Basketball in a more recreational capacity and, overall, the partnership will deliver access to more than ten hours of Basketball training on a weekly basis.

The newly appointed Chair of the University Basketball team and Chemical Engineering student Amaan Yasin has hailed the partnership as the dawn of a new era, adding:

“We are all very excited by this upcoming partnership and we believe that, with the help of James and the Teesside Lions, we will be able to construct a more talented and disciplined team. The opportunity to learn from high level coaches and access resources at the Lions disposal presents a very attractive advert for our university. As chair, I am particularly impressed with the desire of James to provide opportunities for players outside of the first team.”

“Speaking on behalf of the team, we are all looking forward to the upcoming sessions and season.”

Teesside Lions Chairman and Head Coach James Thomson is looking forward to the period of opportunity for the whole of Teesside that the new partnership will generate, stating:

“Teesside Lions will this season embark on our journey to bring professional Basketball to the area with the start of the National League season. We hope it will deliver entertaining, spectator orientated Basketball events. And, not wanting to rest on our laurels, it was important for me that we lay down strong foundations in the community and develop every aspect of the sport. The partnership with Teesside University will not only develop players, but also coaches, referees and table officials to ensure that the area has adequate resources to expand successfully.

“I would like to thank the Students’ Union and the University Team Committee for embracing our proposals with such enthusiasm and support. I genuinely believe we are at the beginning of something special for the University, the Lions club and the area.”

Anyone interested in basketball and students who would like to play for the University are invited to visit the basketball stall at the Fresher’s event on Wednesday 18th September at the Students’ Union, TS1 3BA. For more information regarding Teesside Lions, visit www.TeessideLions.com