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The Grand National

It’s an interesting question, “what do we judge as success”? This was our inaugural foray into the prestigious National Cup of Volleyball England. Our entries at u15s level for both girls and boys.

Predictably pre-match on subsequent days, as nervous tension built up due to facing more experienced and established teams, emphasis was put on “one rule: enjoy yourself!”

The girls joined forces with Frodsham VC with our Stella, Ella and Alyssia making up 6. We called ourselves ‘Frodport’ in recognition of the partnership between these two clubs. One of our girls had only been playing the sport for 5 weeks. The biggest cheer of the day and camaraderie was witnessed when she got her serve over. Fantastic scenes! The three matches ended in defeat but a signal of just how well they did was a mere ’18-25′ loss to the Welsh National squad.

The boys went one step further and qualified for Round 2 from a strong group involving two Black Country VC teams and Urmston. A win in the last game in the final set against Black Country B saw Stockport through in third place with a trip to Newcastle Staffs in Round 2.

On reflection, whatever the criteria, our first venture into the National Cup was a success with happy players and coaches.

Racist Clouds

It raised its ugly head when the National Team played abroad and the UEFA protocol of dealing with racism was implemented to at least stage two.  The result of 0-6 silenced somewhat the Bulgarian minority of racists, before they trotted off curly tails between their legs after half time. Everyone concerned in Sofia were pinpointed. Modern day security cameras are incredibly accurate in football stadia. If only VAR was as sharp and decisive.

The same level of spotting trouble makers was easy at City versus United. The City-fan idiot can be expected to be banned for life from Etihad and its correct no tolerance stance on such behaviour. He may lose his job in turn states weekend reporting.

Overseas there is racist undertones. Always a minority but a vocal few that tarnish the game. The recent Italian headlines was ludicrous and worthy of an Editor losing a job. The Bulgarian Manager did infact resign after that England match.

I cannot comment authoritatively on foreign soil. Bit the re-emergence of this pathetic trend can have roots im broken Britain that the lamentable politicians across all parties should share blame for. I for one love Europe and cannot be shifted, even slightly, from my remainer-DNA. I embrace the joy of a multicultural group of friends in my Stockport Volleyball Club and across other sports. Diversity breeds an interesting environ, more so than navel-gazing of little Britoners. Lets understand what racism means and how it affects those targetted. The snowflake PC brigade make their points, but those affected are the ones I listen to most. As often the authorities are weak. It is not a football problem though IMHO, but social malaise. Law and order is the stick that needs attention so we can return to talking about just the football.

Grand Masters

We like to do our bit – and this Charity fits with our expanding work in rugby league that has included: Salford Red Devils, Toulouse Olympique XIII and Rochdale Hornets:

“On behalf of myself & Barrie 🏉 McDermott  – many thanks to ACROBAT | FCSM & Adrian Stores who very kindly sponsored a flag for our @boltonUni Grand Canyon Challenge. The flag was carried all the way along, as can be seen in the image attached. With daytime temperatures reaching 30 degree, and night time temps dropping to -9, it certainly tested the body, physically and mentally. The flag crossed lake Powell via kayak, climbed up to 2100m mountains, and trekked around 90 miles. The SPF is very proud of the legacy left by Steve Prescott MBE and the inspiration he gives to people to support his chosen charities. The sponsorship you provided, goes to support The Christie in Manchester, the Rugby League Benevolent Fund (Try Assist) and the SPF Special Causes Fund. The SPF special causes fund allows those hospitals, researchers and surgeons who deal in Pseudomyxoma related conditions and multi visceral transplantation to apply for grants to the Trustees of the SPF who ensure that the money will have a direct and significant effect on peoples’ lives. Again, thank you for your support. Every ££ does indeed help to save and change peoples lives. Adrian (Cunliffe) & Barrie”.

Amazing sport

Despite 35 years in sports marketing and managing partnerships with sponsors, there’s still room to be amazed by working in sports that we haven’t served before. I now act as sub-contract Commercial Director at the iconic and legendary, Manchester Giants pro-basketball Team.

The atmosphere at games is something to be experienced. Restricted in numbers by the size of the Venue, but often described as the most atmospheric in the British Basketball League (BBL). Promotional opportunities are available at a fraction of other sports, yet entertainment value second to none. Whatever the driver – marketing exposure, new business generation, corporate hospitality, family entertainment or children’s parties – GIANTS have something for everyone. Just get in touch for an informal, no-obligation chat to explore the potential in this amazing sport: astores@manchestergiants.com

One initiative that is gathering pace is the GIANTS Networking and Business Club. At only £295 for a full year with a range of benefits, already the camaraderie is resulting in friendships, partnerships, supply-chain and new business. And its not onerous at only once a month catching up with one another. Interested: astores@manchestergiants.com

The BBL Championship is the flagship competition and determines the top team in British basketball over a regular season campaign. The twelve clubs meet one another on two occasions in the league competition.

Every game is live streamed via 54 partner channels and live basketball.tv. The BBL is growing in audience and media coverage. A minimum of 2x GIANTS’ games will be shown live on BBC Sport.

The obvious synergy for a brand with this dynamic, growing sport is GIGANTIC. The Guardian reported: “Basketball’s street cred fuels its fight to become UK’s No2 sport”.

According to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, “basketball is the second most popular sport played in the UK by 11 to 15 year olds, with 32% of children playing”. Over 300,000 people 16+ play basketball at least twice a month. 1 in 4 teenagers have played basketball at least once a month in the last year. 12% of these players are in NS-SEC 6-8, meaning that they are from less wealthy backgrounds. This is high compared to many other sports – basketball reaches people from all types of background. 1 in 6 basketball participants are female – we are working to get more women and girls involved in basketball to make this percentage even higher!

What are you waiting for. I practice what we preach and have become a main jersey sponsor this Season as well as joined the GIANTS Networking and Business Club. Do you know someone that might like to join the ‘basketball family’ and beeGIANT🐝🏀 for 2020?