Playground to Pro

In 2015, Scruton Bland signed up as the sole sponsor of a community basketball programme called Playground2Pro. Designed to provide primary school children with the opportunity to take part in a sport and to build their confidence, the Playground2Pro scheme has grown from strength to strength and now reaches out to over 400 children across Suffolk.

E stablished by Ipswich emerging young talent, Nick identified that there was a wealth of potential in primary school aged children in the region, but recognised either through lack of funding, confidence or simply the opportunity, these potential players of the future were in danger of missing out on one of the UKs fastest growing sports. The ethos of Playground2Pro is to take basketball to the children. By sending coaches into schools across Ipswich, for a minimal fee, children of all ages and abilities are given the chance to try out a new sport which not only promotes health, but which teaches the children the value of being part of a team and the support this can offer both on and off the court. basketball Coach, Nick Drane, the Playground2Pro scheme had modest beginnings. Always on the lookout for

Veron’s move to Rome has also facilitated a partnership between the Italian programme and Ipswich basketball. The plan is for Nick Drane to work more with Stella Azzura, and potentially for the Ipswich teams to travel to Rome for training camps and tournaments. Nick added “Veron will complete his academic studies in Italy, whilst learning to speak Italian in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and playing his sport in one of Europe’s top academies. If that doesn’t motivate people to work hard and chase their dreams – I don’t know what will!”

Nick Drane, Director and Head Coach of Ipswich Basketball, to arrange for Veron to travel to Italy for the summer as part of the Stella Azurra Basketball Academy - one of the top five academies in Europe.   Ipswich Basketball Club and Academy have just announced that Veron has made a longer –term commitment to Stella Azurra, and will be moving to Rome to continue his schooling there whilst also training in an elite environment with professional coaching staff and other high-level players. “Veron is a supreme talent” says Nick Drane, “He has the physical attributes to play at the very highest level and having watched him grow as a player, I am incredibly proud of him. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

And it is paying dividends, earlier this year one of the first P2P graduates hit the local headlines. Fifteen-year-old Veron Eze has been playing basketball since primary school as part of the Playground to Pro scheme. Veron was identified at a young age as a potentially gifted player, and despite having to make the journey across town from his Whitehouse Estate home, he persevered and was soon made a member of their Centre of Excellence elite training programme. By the age of ten Veron was playing for the Ipswich Basketball Under-12s and by 14 he made his debut for the senior men’s team in NBL Division Two. His hard work and determination have now resulted in a place on the Great Britain Under-16 team and being named as an ‘All Star’ player in the England Under-15 squad at a recent international tournament in Denmark. It was at this event that Veron was noticed by a European scout who then got in touch with

As the programme grew however, it quickly became apparent that it was not only the specialist coaching that was missing from many of the schools the team visited, but also the equipment. Forced to play with anything they could find in the PE cupboard, the lack of basketballs was a significant issue in many schools, often leaving children having to practice with footballs or other unsuitable equipment. This is where the partnership between Scrutton Bland and Playground2Pro began. Now it the third year, the Scrutton Bland sponsorship has allowed the P2P team to hire more coaches, provide basketballs and enabled the scheme to be rolled out to over 13 schools across Ipswich.

Find out more about Playground2Pro at www.ipswichbasketball.net/playground- to-pro

Scrutton Bland provide financial services such as audit, insurance and accounting for many local and national clubs, charities and not for profit organisations. For more information about how your group could benefit contact us on 01473 267 000 or 01206 838 400 or see www.scruttonbland.co.uk

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