“There is no reason why a girl can’t play basketball to the same level a boy can”

Phil Cain – of Liverpool Basketball Club – is leading the promotion of girls and women’s basketball across the city.

Liverpool Basketball Club, an all volunteer-run organisation that has been going for 50 years, has seen an upsurge in women’s basketball in the last three years.

Cain, a member of the management committee, talks to Merseysportlive about the landscape of the grassroots game, their successes in recruiting more women and girls to play and what the future might hold.

The Club

Liverpool Basketball Club is an all volunteer ran organisation that has been going for 50 years.

Over that period the clubs teams have been predominantly men.

However, over the last three years, the balance has begin to shift as they have seen a rise in interest and participation from girls and women who want to play basketball.

According to Cain, the rise began three years ago when they had some girls who wanted to play and joined the U14 boys team.

Since then, it has just “snowballed” in popularity.

Fast forward to the present day, and the club now has an established U14s and U18s girls team alongside an adult women’s team.

“If you look at our growth of girls over the last three years, we started off with three to four players and now we have regular community sessions, regular all girls sessions, we have teams at U14, U18 and women’s teams.

“You can’t do it all in one go, you need to take little steps,” said Cain.

Such a successful increase is largely, in Cain’s opinion, down to the club’s ability to push their free sessions: “We are currently mid way through our four week free sessions.

“We are pushing it, making it more available with sessions just for girls”.

He also believes Covid has played a positive role in recruitment, as kids have been “stuck inside on Xbox’s or TikTok” and their parents have realised they need to be more active.

The key is fun

“No kid will play any sport they don’t enjoy” was Cain’s response when asked how girls basketball has been encouraged by the club.

The emphasis on fun, and an environment that is pressure free, is vital to developing and maintaining an interest in playing the sport.

“For me, it’s about fun, learning the game. If it’s possible to do all girl sessions it makes a massive difference to improve confidence,” said Cain.

“More all girls sessions, more fun sessions, more developing skills.”

Liverpool Basketball Club runs  “community sessions” for younger children on a regular basis.

“For 8-12 year olds we have community sessions which are just about fun, learning the game, little odd tournaments here and there,” he described.

Such sessions are key in establishing a positive experience with the sport, which increases the chance of maintained participation moving forward.

Award Winning Game Days

Despite facilities being a “real struggle” for the club due to the reliance on hiring school gymnasiums amid examinations and regular Covid testing, Cain was quick to point out the game-day experience that the Liverpool Basketball Club’s players receive.

The games, that are often live streamed on Youtube, include an array of sleek elements to boost the experience.

“We have won awards for it. It’s the best in the country.

“For the men’s and women’s teams we have music, team introductions, a seven camera live stream its really professional. Everyone should get the same experience,” said Cain.

Such a professional experience on game days for all of the clubs teams is a key element in attracting young girls to play the game.

“All the girls have their own kits with their names on the back, there is also live commentary.

“We think it attracts kids because they realise we are quite professional about it”.

The Future

Cain has a positive outlook on the future of girls basketball, not just in Liverpool or at the club, but on a wider scale.

He suggests that success for Liverpool Basketball Club would be having their girls and women’s programme “on a par with what we have with the boys”.

Next year, the club harbours ambitions to have an U14, U16, U18 and adult women’s teams.

In terms of a wider outlook, clubs alongside Liverpool have seen their women’s programmes expand across the region.

“Mersey Mavericks are big on the women’s game, looking around the region, Preston, St Helens, Manchester all have big girls programmes.

“The outlook is positive,” Cain concluded.