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How Belfast basketball stars are using school car park for swift return to training

 

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High hoops: CJ Fulton, Conor and Aidan Quinn at the new outside basketball courts at St Malachy's

High hoops: CJ Fulton, Conor and Aidan Quinn at the new outside basketball courts at St Malachy's

Stephen Hamilton

In action at the courts

In action at the courts

Stephen Hamilton

Star of the Sea chairman Bill McCotter

Star of the Sea chairman Bill McCotter

Stephen Hamilton

Star head coach Adrian Fulton

Star head coach Adrian Fulton

Stephen Hamilton

High hoops: CJ Fulton, Conor and Aidan Quinn at the new outside basketball courts at St Malachy's

Star of the Sea basketball club have come up with an audacious plan to make sure their young players are back on the court this summer.

The brainchild of Star's legendary chairman Bill McCotter, in conjunction with St Malachy's Grammar, one new full court and two new half-courts have been laid out in the school's car park area.

Star, whose Superleague side were crowned All-Ireland champions just before the lockdown kicked in, will be offering coaching to all their under-age teams throughout the summer.

The senior lads, currently unable to train indoors, will also be able to use the facility, which allows the club to play the three-on-three format being heavily promoted by the international governing body FIBNA, and also the full court game.

McCotter said: "Everybody has been feeling the strain of the lockdown and I just got thinking how we can get the kids back playing because I know they are so keen to get out and start shooting some hoops.

"Speaking to the parents, I could see just how much they will be grateful for such a facility. I never really fully appreciated just how much the club meant to the kids and families connected to Star until now.

"I was very grateful to the headmaster of St Malachy's, Paul McBride, who when approached was very positive about setting up the courts and our Star secretary has, as in all aspects of the club, been a great help as well in putting this together.

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In action at the courts

In action at the courts

Stephen Hamilton

In action at the courts

 

"We got some quotes and then settled on a firm in Sligo, OWS Supplies, and they have managed to turn this around very quickly.

"We will be running a coaching programme every week of the summer and hope to have this going within the next fortnight.

"Of course, everything we do will be in line with the regulations laid out by the Executive. At all times we will be led by the lockdown guidelines.

"For example, every kid who participates in our coaching camps will have their temperature taken and that will be recorded, every kid will have their own basketball and if the toilet facilities are used then they will be immediately disinfected.

"We will be taking the regulations very seriously so the kids are able to enjoy themselves at this tough time and also improve their skills.

"Mental health is an issue that has come to the fore in recent times and we know how much sport can help all of us."

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Star of the Sea chairman Bill McCotter

Star of the Sea chairman Bill McCotter

Stephen Hamilton

Star of the Sea chairman Bill McCotter

 

Star's All-Ireland Superleague head coach Adrian Fulton, who is also a member of the PE department at St Malachy's, believes it will be of great benefit for those at the club and school.

As well as seeking to make plans for the start of Star's All-Ireland Superleague title defence, he also has his work at Malachy's to consider.

"As a PE department we had been thinking about what would be possible come September so this idea was very, very welcome. The boys at Malachy's will be able to make great use of the facility," said Fulton.

"Wearing both hats, as Star coach and teacher, it will be great to see kids out playing basketball and we know that when you look at America and Spain, two of the top basketball countries in the world, just how beneficial outdoor courts have been.

"As a school we are very conscious of the physical and mental health of our pupils so this is ideal and we have the perfect set-up because we only recently laid down new tarmac. Kids can learn skills and have fun and just being able to meet up with friends is huge."

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Star head coach Adrian Fulton

Star head coach Adrian Fulton

Stephen Hamilton

Star head coach Adrian Fulton

 

As for Star's start to the Superleague campaign, that remains up in the air, though a date of the first week in November has been mooted and Basketball Ireland have declared a return to training on July 20.

One issue that Fulton would love to resolve is the re-signing of Superleague Player of the Year Delaney Blaylock, who was critical to their success last season.

"It's no secret that we would love to have Delaney back and I have already made contact with his agent so we'll see if we can get the deal done. He's a great fella and last season he was just outstanding for us," added Fulton.

Belfast Telegraph