The founder of Cheshire Roar Women’s Basketball Club believes a new partnership with Cheshire Phoenix will help grow the women’s game in Cheshire.

The partnership was announced on International Women’s Day (Tuesday March 8).

It will see the Roar become part of Phoenix’s community programme and give women and young girls the opportunity to play recreational and competitive basketball.

Ludovica Lunigiani, the founder and director of Roar, said: “The partnership means everything because they have been established in Cheshire for so long.

“Everybody knows the name, they’ve been a symbol of basketball for a long time.

“We are very new so being associated with them is going to get our name out there and show that we take the development of women’s basketball in Cheshire very seriously.

“If you go to their games there are a lot of young girls and women who are very interested in basketball who can now participate and make a difference for women.”

The Nix will direct young girls who are interested in playing basketball to the Roar.

Mrs Lunigiani says this will lead to a “growth in women’s basketball in Cheshire, and a lot of it is because of the reach that they have within the community.

“Even the fact that women know there is a place to play is a massive benefit… people will be more interested to try it out.

“When we started we had an average of six players, now we have 14 players.

“Since the partnership was announced I have been approached by a lot more women who want to start playing.”

Cheshire Roar basketball team

Mrs Lunigiani setup Cheshire Roar in 2020 to provide “an opportunity for women to play”.

She said: “once I graduated university there was nowhere for me to play, there were no women’s teams.

“If a young girl really works hard and really wants it, the possibility to play professional basketball in England is a reality.

“However, there is not much visibility out there… that is a very big barrier because how can you believe that there might be a career in basketball if there is no visibility in that career path.

“It’s very important that girls can come and see women play and see that the game is as intense as the men’s game. It’s very important in the sense of visibility and promotion.

Mrs Lunigiani hopes the Roar can “break the stereotypical ideologies connected to basketball and show that no matter your height, age, ability or socio-economic background, everyone can play basketball”.

She also believes basketball can play a vital role in providing a safe space for young girls:

“I have worked a lot with kids from underrepresented communities and there is not a lot out there for young girls to get involved with.

“Basketball, for me and a lot of players, was what put me on the right path in life and that’s what I wanted to give back to the community”.

For this reason John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, has backed the project.

He said: “providing a safe place for women and girls to go and have fun is key. It can help them escape the pressures of everyday life.

“We know that diversionary activities can have a positive impact and break the cycle of crime.

“Cheshire Roar have researched and found out who to target and where the gaps are in the county for this sort of service.

“I want to wish Cheshire Roar the best of luck in this really important work”.

Cheshire Roar run a women’s session on Mondays from 8pm-9:30pm at Chester University sports hall.

There is also a women’s session on Tuesdays 6:30pm-8pm and a junior session from 5:30pm-6:30pm.

(Images provided with permission by Cheshire Roar Women’s Basketball Club)