Head of Sport Seth Nobes and his trusty deputy Joe Camp kicked off our third show of the semester by welcoming into the studio two guests from UoB Basketball. Nikos Tokos (treasurer of the Men’s club) and Kate Biddulph (1st Team Captain of the Women’s) joined the boys for an interview and to promote their upcoming RebelLION event. The event is this Saturday 26th February from 2:30pm into the evening with the Women’s game versus Wolverhampton kicking things off. There will then be a performance from the Birmingham Pussycats (the university’s cheerleading team) before the Men’s team take on Birmingham City University. Tickets are £3 for bleachers seats or £5 for courtside and all profits will be reinvested into the club; they hope to purchase a new shooting machine and other equipment to aid the overall basketball experience for members.
Seth and Joe started the interview by asking about the COVID impacts on the club following heavy restrictions last year on indoor sports. These restrictions meant there was only three months of training and playing time last academic year, so both clubs had big tasks ahead of them coming into this season. Kate spoke of early morning training sessions to improve the team as many second-year players had no experience of a proper season – she remarked it was as if the club had two cohorts of freshers. Nikos spoke highly of the coaches in their role in improving the squads and also said how important socials had been in bonding the team and boosting morale.
It has been a difficult season for the Men’s 1st team so far and their opponents, BCU, are currently top and yet to lose a game. However, Nikos maintained that a big crowd at Saturday’s event should hopefully spur the team on in their first ever meeting with the local rivals. Similarly, the Women’s 1st team are set to play another local team, Wolverhampton. Both teams are currently sitting with twelve points under their belts, although our Birmingham girls won their previous match against them. Seth and Joe asked Kate if the stakes of this game will affect the pressure but she confidently replied that the team know what they have to do and have a game plan in place led by their amazing coach. You can find out more information about the event on both of the teams’ Instagram pages – @uobwbball and @uobbasketball.
The rest of the show featured several segments focusing on news in sport in the wider world outside of the university gates. Katie Hill and Bella Shepherd-Evans joined Seth to summarise and discuss Team GB’s disappointing results at the Beijing Winter Olympics, which concluded on Sunday (20th Feb). The team finished the games with just two medals – a gold in Women’s curling and a silver in the Men’s event. This comes as a disappointment to UK Sport who set the target of 3-7 medals after Team GB won 5 medals at the previous games in PyeongChang. Despite this, the governing body have pledged that they will not cut funding. This funding amounted to £28 million in total, with £6.4m going to Skeleton and £9.5m to GB Snowsport, neither of which returned a medal. Seth pointed out that the point of Olympic games should be to ‘inspire a generation’ and encourage grassroots engagement with sports. This is more difficult with the Winter games as the events are often considered more elitist and inaccessible to many, unlike Summer events where all you’d need would be a decent pair of trainers. At the same time, however, cutting funding will make these sports increasingly elitist as only the richest will be able to afford training and equipment costs. The question is: when do we stop throwing money at something that brings no returns?
Aidan Clarke, Joe Camp, and Alex Fletcher then re-joined Seth in the studio to talk about the positive news this week that the Northern Irish Women’s Football team have qualified for the Euros 2022. This has meant the club, who up until now had only been part-time, have been placed on their first ever professional contract with access to specialist training grounds as well as rehabilitation and physio facilities. The team have created an intense 7-month pre-season training programme since qualifying which will be extremely taxing and there will also be specialist mental health support on hand. As Northern Irish Women’s football only has part-time divisions currently (including the international set-up), success at the Euros could mean the potential for professional infrastructure to be established. Aidan commented that this could be a statement to other countries who don’t have any investment in Women’s football and also has the potential to create a legacy for young girls in Northern Ireland. The team face a tough group of England, Austria and Norway.
The boys rounded off the show by previewing the big weekend ahead for England rugby as they take on Wales at the Six Nations and finished with a brief discussion about last-minute cancellations of football matches and this negatively affects travelling fans.
See you next Monday at 7pm!