GALLERY & REPORT

Basketball hoop dreams come true in Portlaoise at Laois Sports Partnership finals

Leinster Express Reporter

Reporter:

Leinster Express Reporter

St. Mary’s Hall Portlaoise has been the venue for many a thrilling basketball match over the years, and the primary schools children who took part in our annual tournaments this year can be very proud to say they are now part of this great tradition!

Having grown from a series of one day blitzes, it is now one of Laois Sports Partnership's most keenly anticipated schools programmes each year.

The partnership has worked to promote participation in basketball by forging links between primary schools and local clubs. Over the last 6 years we have developed a programme where coaching sessions are delivered in schools by coaches from clubs in the county.

Seamus Dooley from Portlaoise Panthers Basketball Club has been volunteering with the programme for the last number of years. His coaching skills and passion for the sport have been a contributing factor in the popularity of the programme and growth in numbers taking part year on year.

Coaching is offered to the schools over a 4 week period to pupils from 3 rd – 6 th class. Pupils in 3rd class can potentially receive the coaching for up to 4 years before they move on to secondary school. A record 19 schools took part in our coaching programme this year.

Once the coaching has been delivered, all of the schools in the county are invited to take part in our tournaments run over 6 days in St. Mary’s Hall Portlaoise. The tournament days give schools an opportunity to play against each other and use their new skills, in a friendly, non-competitive environment. All schools from around the county are invited with over 1,000 children taking part over the two weeks.

Part of the appeal of the Basketball Programme is due to its inclusive nature. Coaching and tournaments are delivered in such a way that everyone gets to take part, not just the most proficient players who normally get picked for teams.

Children get to represent their school and wear their school colours – in many cases for the first time. They get to experience the atmosphere of a large scale sporting event, mixing with pupils from other schools around the county.

The emphasis is on friendly competition, so no scores are displayed. Everyone receives a certificate for representing their schools.

The aim is to encourage participation and hopefully see children get involved with their local club.

Schools and teachers were thanked for their participation in this programme.

Seamus Dooley, Jack Dooley and Portlaoise Panthers were also thanked for their support as were all of the TY students from local schools who helped us to referee our matches, helping to make the tournaments such a success again this year