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Riding in the community

At the heart of Leicester Riders Basketball club sits their continuously growing community programme.

The Leicester Riders work in partnership with Universities, colleges, schools, community groups and local business. They deliver a variety of programmes that address a number of social issues from behavioural problems, crime, health as well as sessions that are just fun in general. The basketball club takes pride in their community programme and its delivery of programmes for the community members of all ages and ethnicities.

Throughout the 2012/2013 academic year the Riders were privileged to work with over 100 academic institutes, engaging with approximately 15,000 young people, encouraging increased participation in basketball as well as tackling social issues within communities and schools. As Leicester Riders Director Russell Levenston states: “Our community programme has taken unbelievable strides in the last 12 months working in over 100 schools and reaching 15,000 young people. Last year the Shoot 2 the Future programme took off faster that we ever thought it would. It really demonstrated the need for more free basketball sessions in the city of Leicester. We have been fortunate to find great partners that want to support the sessions and keep them running for as many people as possible. The messages we are able to deliver to the young people at the sessions are very powerful and you can see the positive results in areas we have delivered.”

Leicester Riders have joined forces with Leicester City, Leicester Tigers, Leicestershire & Rutland Cricket and Leicester Hockey Club in a unique programme “Playing 4 Health”. Thanks to the support of Leicester City NHS, and using the excitement and legacy of the 2012 Olympics, the five main sporting clubs of Leicestershire plan to visit every primary school in the Leicester city area to deliver a fun and active high-intensity exercise programme engage as many Year 3 and 4 pupils as possible. Professional coaches will be available for five weeks of activity in school sessions. These are designed to increase movement skills and create an awareness of the physical and social benefits of being active, making healthy choices and playing regular sport of any kind on a weekly basis. Each pupil in the programme will enjoy up to 60 minutes activity per week, as well as the five weeks of coaching from a professional club.

The Riders delivered the project to 12 schools during the 2012/13 academic year. The programme concluded this year with a major festival at University of Leicester Playing fields, with 12 schools across Leicester City attending the day. The project has received funding to run for an additional year allowing the top clubs of Leicester to engage with young people across Leicester and promote the message of a healthy lifestyle.

Hoops for Health is a five stage healthy living education programme involving professional sporting role models, using basketball as an activity to convey a range of positive health  messages to young people in primary schools, including the importance of keeping physically active and promoting all aspects of a healthy lifestyle. The Hoops for Health programme has proven to be one of the most popular over the years and the most effective as a result of having professional players delivering the positive messages. Throughout the 2012/13 academic year the Leicester Riders visited 15 schools across Leicestershire delivering the Roadshow to over 3000 young people.

The Leicester Riders and Leicestershire Police have also teamed up to make a difference to the community via a new programme targeted at young people. The aim of the “Shoot 2 the Future” project is to support youth development in the community by means of basketball. A number of youth training programmes and opportunity days will beprovided, which will encourage today’s youth in the community to refocus, and assist them in developing their skills and talent.

Shoot 2 the Future has proven to be one of the most successful projects that the Leicester Riders deliver with up to 120 young people taking part in basketball on a Friday night and approximately 20 young people engaging in the dance element of the project. Shoot 2 the Future is delivered across four locations in the city, New Parks, Beaumont Leys, Castle Ward and Rushey Mead. The success of the project has provided the opportunity for the project to expand in to a 5th location as a mark of celebration as the project approaches its one year anniversary this November.

The Challenge Me project is the Leicester Riders newest addition to its community programme. It is designed to work with children on a number of areas that will develop them as young people, assisting with their concentration within the class and with the relationships that they build with their peers and friends.

The young people selected on the project will have the opportunity to develop their personal skills whilst working with a professional player. The project has begun delivery across the schools in Leicestershire and so far has received extremely positive feedback from teachers and pupils.

Ben Wells, P.E. Co-ordinator at Alderman Richard Hallam expressed his delight in the success of the programme. “I had eight students working with Coach Kiran, all of whom have positively benefitted from their involvement in the programme. In all of our sessions, pupils were on task and well behaved.” The project will look to secure additional funding to provide other schools in Leicester with opportunity to benefit.

This October also saw the launch of an array of satellite clubs across Leicestershire through the Leicester Riders and England Basketball. The clubs will look to bridge the gap for young people in schools and community clubs.

The Leicester Riders along with England Basketball have selected a number of wide spread locations to host the clubs, providing as many opportunities to engage in the sport as possible.

Following the set up of the clubs, a central venue league will begin in January providing the chance to participate in competitive basketball on a Saturday morning at the John Sandford Sports Centre, before the professional men take to the court that evening. The Leicester Riders will look to develop young people in a variety of roles with the use of the satellite clubs such as identifying young talent and providing opportunities for coaches, referees and table officials to gain experience through the programme.

The Riders continue to grow as a club. So does the community programme, ensuring that there is basketball provision for all the community from participation through to elite levels. Russell concludes by saying that “our community and player pathway programme are the foundation of our club and we look forward to their continual growth with the support of the local authorities and commercial partnerships.”

For more information on the Leicester Riders and their community programmes you can check out their website at, alternatively you can call the office on 0116 255 8635.

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