Player shortage forces inter-insular withdrawal

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Injuries and a poor turnout for training sessions have led the Jersey Baskeball Association to pull out – although the men’s game and the junior matches will go ahead with under-21 and under-17 games for the first time.

The decision to pull the ladies out was taken by the Jersey Basketball Association after some soul-searching.

Said JBBA vice president John Small: ‘We’ve held regular training sessions since October last year but we’ve had a repeatedly disappointing turnout.

That, and the fact that several members of the team are out for the season with difficult injuries, means the squad was depleted to an unsustainable number.

‘It’s not been an easy decision but it would be unfair on Guernsey to send six inexperienced players to compete against them – the Guernsey team wouldn’t enjoy it, and it wouldn’t give them the standard of game they expect and deserve.

‘It’s nothing to do with being frightened of losing, or being embarrassed about the score margin – we simply don’t have a team.

‘We are aware that when Jersey dominated ladies basketball, Guernsey still fielded a team each year.

If Jersey could physically field a team, the situation would be different.’ The forced withdrawal is a big disappointment for Small and the JBBA.

At one time Jersey consistently beat the Sarnians.

But then, five seasons ago, Guernsey won for the first time in about 14 years and have maintained that recent supremacy.

Three years ago Jersey ladies hit rock bottom when they were beaten by over 60 points and the next year the match wasn’t played.

But in 2004 Jersey lost by just 24 points and the result was heralded as a new dawn.

It has turned out to be false but, neverthless, there is a ‘notable interest’ in the ladies game at junior level, says Small and the JBBA is using that to rebuild.

Attendances at the weekly sessions at Springfield are attracting a growing number of young players.

‘The number of boys coming has grown amazingly,’ says Small.

‘And we’re getting more girls, too.’ It all means that this year, for the first time, there will be an Under-17s game, followed by an Under-21s match.

Both the junior teams feature players from last year’s winning Under-19s side as well as new players.

It is hoped that, in the near future, it might be possible to play an Under-19s match as well.

Meanwhile, following their victory last year, the Island men are eager to put on a repeat performance in Guernsey when the island sides meet on 19 March.

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