Playground2Pro Continues to Grow

23 October 2023 - Elizabeth Nichols

If you’re at all interested in sport you can’t have missed the success of Ipswich Basketball. Recent triumphs include their Under 18 Women’s team winning both the National Cup and the National League Championship, and their senior teams’ consistent track record at almost every top-flight level means Ipswich is now one of the most successful basketball clubs in the country.

But did you know that Scrutton Bland sponsors Ipswich Basketball’s Playground2Pro community project, delivering coaching sessions in schools in and around Ipswich?  Nick Drane, Playground 2 Pro Director and Ipswich Basketball Head Coach explains more.

What Happens at Playground2Pro?

The weekly Playground2Pro (P2P) Community Basketball Project involves sending professional coaches into seven schools in Ipswich and south Suffolk to train young players during both curriculum and extra-curricular time. There are also two weekly community clubs, one targeting beginners and one for more advanced players as well as an additional weekly ‘elite skills’ sessions for those players that are showing great potential within the sport. Currently, the P2P timetable sees nearly 400 young people engaged in basketball activity each week, learning from and being inspired by current and former top such as Danny Manning and Harriet Welham.

Benefits Beyond Sport

The P2P project works on a number of levels. Most obviously it is a way to get young people active and learning how to work in a team. Learning the rules and listening to a coach or manager for guidance are fundamental to achieving success, and the discipline of turning up on time for practice on regular basis can often bring a level of stability to sometimes chaotic young lives. And of course, there is the tremendous satisfaction of seeing your team and your club’s success when everyone has worked so hard to make it happen.

Identifying and Nurturing Talent

Playground2Pro has also been successful in identifying stars of the future, and now offers an extensive holiday programme that includes ‘Little Stars’ and ‘Elite Camps’, with as many as 125 players attending per day during the summer holidays.  Working in partnership with Endeavour Ipswich Basketball Club, Playground2Pro signposts its graduates to either National League sessions within the eastern region’s highest profile elite basketball club, or to the newly launched Central Venue League (CVL) which targets young people who are not at an elite level but wish to continue to play basketball as a hobby. Between Playground2Pro, the CVL and Ipswich Basketball Club, the number of young people playing basketball in the Ipswich area is close to six hundred each week.

Working with the Professionals

The P2P sessions are predominantly delivered by Coach Danny Manning, who is a graduate of the nationally recognised Ipswich Basketball Academy, based at Copleston Sixth Form, where he works with some of the most talented young players in the country. The remainder of his working week is spent delivering Playground2Pro sessions in schools each week, as well as heading up both community sessions, and running the holiday camps. Some of you may also have seen Danny helping out at Scrutton Bland’s stand at the Tendring Show where he ran a ‘Shoot the Hoop’ competition for us! Meanwhile, Ipswich Women’s Captain Harriet Welham has returned to the P2P staff after spending the last two years playing professional basketball in France. The National League all-time leading scorer is now heading up the newly launched elite side of the P2P programme, offering skills sessions and high-level camps, inspiring the next generation as one of the most influential and talented players of her generation.

Success Breeds Success

Scrutton Bland’s sponsorship of Playground2Pro has enabled it to flourish, working alongside Ipswich Basketball Club and the Academy. Since its launch the number of young people participating in basketball activity in the Ipswich and surrounding area has trebled. In addition, the programme has created employment for two talented and ambitious Ipswich-based basketball professionals. The P2P community project aims to deliver basketball skills to a mass audience across Ipswich and beyond, which in turn will enhance the performance delivered by the senior teams at Ipswich Basketball Club.

A Final Word

“Our aim is to grow the number of young people that are passionate about one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and all of the opportunities and benefits that go along with the healthy and happy life of a young person in this part of the country. We’re so pleased to have a partnership with Scrutton Bland who have helped us deliver Playground2Pro to thousands of young people. This really is community support in action.”

Nick Drane, Playground2Pro founder

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