City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Club is designed to deliver basketball in order to initiate social change to children and young people from Birmingham and the surrounding areas.
The club was founded in 2003 and initially an Under 14 programme providing a platform to expand its delivery to a wider range of ages.
The past 15 years have seen the club grow steadily both on and off the court. Our junior teams consistently compete in the highest level of competition in the country and produce outstanding players and more importantly fine young men and women who contribute positively to their own communities, the city and the region.
We now operate 13 teams from Under 11 to Under 19 age groups for boys and up to Under 18 for girls. We are delighted to have added adult teams in recent years, which compete in National Competitions and form the pinnacle of our club, completing the player pathway into the Senior game.
The club operates a 12-month program which is busiest during the basketball season between September and April, when we have up to 13 games per weekend around the country. However, the summer period also sees a range of training activity for both players and volunteer staff to develop skills to ensure we are prepared for the season ahead.
Our seasonal schedule is very busy. Our teams and players travel both locally and nationally to participate and compete. This is the first experience of travelling outside Birmingham for many of our young people. We also participate regularly in tournaments in Belgium, Sweden and Ireland. Most recently we have formed a partnership with a Spanish Club, Founacion Lucentum, who are based in Alicante. This will enable us an opportunity to provide our players and volunteers the opportunity to expand their cultural knowledge and experience.
Our thriving mini basketball sessions provide opportunities for Primary School Children to participate in basketball and an introductory skills development session also takes place weekly for new players to learn fundamental skills prior to joining one of our elite teams or the opportunity to indeed to play the game socially. The club also administers a League for these young children to experience competition and travel around the city in games to improve social awareness.
Our National League teams are the club’s representative teams that compete in National Competitions. Those teams are headed by volunteer coaches who travel around the country every weekend to compete against many of the top teams in the England. Our players are taught the need for teamwork, discipline and communication in addition to the high level of basketball coaching they receive.
In addition to our competitive teams and club coaching we also deliver a wide range of community based activities around the whole city of Birmingham:
The club has effective partnerships with Basketball England, British Basketball League, Sport Birmingham and Aston Villa Premier League 4 Sport Scheme to deliver satellite clubs across the city. These clubs allow children to access other basketball clubs locally and receive coaching from our club coaches on a weekly basis. These teams come together to play in a Central Venue League (CVL) every month during the season.
We love the fact that we are able to work with and positively influence so many young people from across the city and region. Whilst we aim to help each young person realise their full potential on the basketball course, more importantly we attempt to provide positive influences and guidance for their journey in life. We see many of our former players return to the club to support through volunteer coaching, and in turn mentor our new generation of young people.
We try to do this by creating a family atmosphere within the club where everyone feels welcome, valued and supported – the needs of the individual are always put above anything else. This is encompassed by our use of our strapline motto ‘More than a Club’.
Our structure enables us to provide for young people of all abilities with their differing ambitions and motivations. We are extremely proud of our ability to deliver to boys, girls, men, women and wheelchair participants from every imaginable ethnic, social and religious background.
The ethnic diversity of Birmingham ensures we have a unique opportunity to work with young people from a wide and differing variety of social, economic and cultural backgrounds. This enables us to create a shared learning environment – our participants share their experiences with a common interest in basketball. The learning and understanding of each other creates a platform for friendships and positivity of understanding when returning to local communities and in communicating with others who have differences in culture and religion.
In addition we have been successful in attracting participants from varying social and economic classes who see no barriers and obstacles in working together, becoming team mates and friends. This is achieved by creating a positive environment where everyone is treated equally.
City of Birmingham also provides a mentoring service to our members. We believe that by knowing, understanding and supporting our members we can offer much more than purely basketball opportunities. Our goal is to develop the boys and girls within our club and give them a platform for achievement in life. Our 6 club mentors are available to our members to help with any issues both basketball and non-basketball related. These mentors are trained to help our members resolve issues and conflicts through positive communication and support in an environment they are comfortable with. Our Mentoring Lead, Kirk Dawes, is an industry expert in dealing with conflict management and resolution including gang related positive mentoring.
We aim to nurture and develop players and volunteers in order that they acquire the qualities required to become leaders within the club and beyond. We deliver a range of leadership activities and basketball qualifications, which provide both part time and full-time employment opportunities which our people can utilise throughout university and college or generate a part time income for those not in full time education.
These leadership qualifications offer another positive aspect on CV’s proving the ability of the individuals to be responsible and become confident role models for our younger participants.
We are keen to produce both excellent basketball players and diversified citizens. The club work very closely with local schools to ensure our members are reaching their academic potential. We are proud of the amount of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds that have continued on to university education – our success rates in this area have been of great satisfaction to the club. This link enables players to practice daily and receive expert tuition both on court and in the classroom. We also see a large number of our former players return to the club to become involved in voluntary coaching upon their return to the city from university.
As part of the club’s Community Programme the club deliver basketball-coaching sessions within a number of city schools. We have been chosen by to deliver the Premier League 4 Sport Basketball programme in partnership with Aston Villa and the Nothing But Net Scheme on behalf of England Basketball. Our pool of school coaches are expertly trained in delivering enjoyable and effective coaching sessions to school children in is what is often a first basketball experience for children.
We now have over 1300 playing members across Birmingham and a registered volunteer base of up to 50 people who ensure the club can continue to exist and evolve through coaching coordination or administrative duties. The amount of voluntary time put into the club is immeasurable but our nearest guesstimate is in the region of 250 hours per week across the club! Based on a wage of £11 per hour this is the equivalent of £2750 per week.
The club has several players who have progressed to play international basketball – in recent times. Ex COB Juniors Myles Hesson (France) and Kofi Josephs (Glasgow Rocks) both currently represent Great Britain in the 2018 Euro Basket Qualifying Tournament, with Kofi most recently representing England in the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Jordan Dawes having attend High School in the USA, has played for three professional clubs, Leicester Riders, Birmingham Knights, and Worcester Wolves and is now a Royal Marine, Martyn Gayle has played at Derby Storm, Birmingham Knights, and Cheshire Phoenix, Emile Hopkins Birmingham Knights and Plymouth University Raiders, Kieran Mills Leicester Warriors, Josh Rolls Tyson Birmingham Knights, Butte Community College, USA, and Ryan Lewis, Manchester Giants.
Additionally, a number of club alumni players have represented England during recent junior European Championships. Numerous members of our club have gone on to pursue further and higher educational options and attend universities across the country whilst continuing to play basketball at an elite level. We are proud that these players return to the club on a regular basis and help support the development of current club members.
Due to the sustained growth of the club over recent years, we have recently re-structured our organisation to enable us to look at expanding our delivery. Our Board works hard to ensure that the club operates in a fair, honest and correct manner.
We really want to build on the successes of the past and create an even more successful future for basketball in Birmingham, developing players to the best of their ability whilst providing support and guidance in other areas of people development.
We are keen to develop our playing programme further and are currently working on many different, exciting possibilities that will allow us to do this, providing they are in the best interests of the club and our members.
To that end we are proud to have on the board of the club Hakeem Olajuwon. He is a former player now a coach at the Houston Rockets NBA Franchise. Hakeem is the only player in NBA history to win the NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVPawards in the same season. His Rockets won back-to-back championships against the New York Knicks and Shaquille O’Neal‘s Orlando Magic. In 1996, Olajuwon was a member of the Olympic gold-medal-winning United States national team, and was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He ended his career as the league’s all-time leader in blocks, with 3,830, and is one of four NBA players to record a quadruple-double.
Over the past 5 summers we have put on the Hakeem Olajuwon ‘City of Birmingham’ Rockets International Basketball Camp. The Camp which is both Residential and Non-Residential and takes place in Birmingham from the evening of Sunday to the following Friday during one week in the summer. Hakeem Olajuwon is central to this camp and engages two Coaches from Houston, Texas who have designed and run similar camps on his behalf worldwide including China. Hakeem is always in attendance at the Camp to work with players and coaches. The Houston Coaches are responsible for the design and day to day activities of the camp. They are also being joined by the GB former Olympic Basketball Captain Drew Sullivan together with a number of other elite Coaches.
From September of 2018 the Hakeem Olajuwon City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Academy has been situated at the Sixth Form College, Solihull. We are delighted to be working with a forward-thinking school which will provide academic excellence, whilst the club through its experienced high level coaching will provide the Basketball principles. Players successfully selected the academy will be offered range of educational courses for all abilities so that students can reach their individual goals. The Sixth form has the expertise and experience to to offer BTEC Level 3 and ‘A’ Level courses depending on individual student requirements.
In addition we have now added a second academy in North Birmingham at Broadway Academy which ensures a good geographical spread of our educational offer.
We have recently secured funding from 2K Foundations to develop our home court arena and our home matches will be something not to miss from September 2022!