Falkirk Fury have a proud record of producing basketball stars for Scottish international squads – with an increasing number of female players now joining the capped ranks.
The club is in its fourth year of Direct Club Investment, sportscotland’s large-scale club development project which distributes National Lottery funds directly to clubs, and the results continue to flow.
Five current and former Fury players - Jonny Bunyan, Kieron Achara, Ali Fraser, Fraser Malcolm and Ross Gibson - are in a 13-strong training squad for the forthcoming internationals against Wales and Ireland. Three of that group are now professional while another is playing college basketball in the US.
The internationals will be played at Oriam, Scotland’s Sports Performance Centre in Edinburgh, and will be pivotal part in the Scots’ bid to reach the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. Kieron Achara (pictured below in action for Great Britain) was named top British player in this season’s Pro Basketball League.
DCI offers investment to support club development over a period of two to four years, giving the club time to embed significant developmental change.
As a result of this funding, female players at Fury have been able to access additional support services from the club, including strength and conditioning training which has assisted with their fitness, quick first step and technical ability to move and perform on court, biomechanics sessions with Fury head coach John Bunyan and golf pro Stewart Craig, as well as extra athletics sessions with Fury athletics coach Gordon Munnoch.
The outcome of this investment is that three teenage female players from the club have now been called up to represent their country.
Abby Rutter and Eabha Kerr, Falkirk High School academy players and Fury club members since primary school, will train with the national under-14 squad in the run-up to the internationals in Ireland.
Club under-16s captain Mairi McGill is one of seven Scottish players named in May who will attend a camp and trial session with the GB under-16s in Manchester ahead of the European Championships in August in Macedonia.
John Bunyan, head coach at the club who led the men to a treble winning season and both men and women to become Scottish play-off champions, said: “The off-court work we do at Fury is as important as the on-court, and the DCI investment has been vital in allowing us to further develop our performance-based training programmes at the club, and to widen the professional coaching offering.
“We are looking forward to continuing this with our work on the physiological make-up of athletes and carrying out a skeletal assessment of players to ultimately help to enhance their athletic potential.”
Abby and Eabha (nicknamed ‘twin towers’ for their impressive height of nearly 6 feet at only 14 years old) and Mairi have been part of the club’s Cadet Girls team over the past two years and have all been involved in coaching the younger teams of under 10s, 12s and 14s, giving back time and expertise to support the next wave of emerging talent from the family-oriented club.
A thriving local primary school league in Falkirk which sees 50 schools regularly playing and competing in the increasingly popular sport, strong school-club links to Falkirk High School and Larbert High School and the skills and strategies of basketball embedded into the curriculum and PE qualifications, pave solid pathways for those young people who want to keep playing into secondary school, at club level and beyond.
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In 2013, sportscotland announced that a £10 million funding stream would be made available to clubs across Scotland looking to develop and meet expanding capacity.
Alongside providing DCI investment, sportscotland created regional development posts to directly support local sport clubs. This joined-up approach is reaping rewards four years into the programme, improving the quality of school to club to performance pathways and enabling Scottish Governing Bodies of sport to work more closely with their member clubs, and with local partners, to improve the opportunities for clubs to flourish.
For more information visit the clubs section on the sportscotland website.
Photo credit: Craig Doyle Media