History of the Isle of Man Basketball Association

The Isle of Man Basketball Association was formed in 1973 under the direction of Frank Moretta, a teacher at CRHS.  There are no records of structured league games until the 1976/77 season but rumour has it that at this time being able to make a lay-up with two players on your back was an advantage! 

In 1977 Phil Deadman MBE (for services to basketball in England) who was a founder member of the English Schools Basketball Association moved to the Isle of Man and took control of the direction of basketball.  Within a few years the association had expanded to two men’s leagues and a ladies league.  Players had been taught to referee by Pete Jaques and the standards gradually improved.

The 80’s were especially good and saw many major initiatives that were to shape the future of basketball to this day:-

Firstly coaching in the local secondary schools started to establish a base for development; Teams from every secondary school have contributed to the league structure and at one time every committee member had attended one local secondary school.

Secondly the Island teams began to tour the North of England and this helped to provide variety of opposition, new challenges, new contacts and the players and coaches learned from the experience.

Thirdly a series of tournaments brought teams to the Island which enhanced the Islands profile and culminated with the Isle of Man staging England v Scotland at senior men’s level.

Fourthly the Isle of Man attracted some of the big names from England to run coaching courses Bill Beswick and Randy Heafner being the most notable of these.

Fifthly a few of the Island players began to make a name for themselves in the U.K. during the 80s and 90s. Neil Bryden qualified for the North of England Schools followed by Nikki Baird, Nicky Cain, Lorna Callow and Gary Corlett with Nicky Cain and Gary Corlett making it to the full England trial. 

Since then Jason Fogerty has represented England and Great Britain in over 40 internationals, Damien Fozard played for British Universities, Jacky Crowe played for England at U19 level as did Tony Jones, Gary Crosbie played National League as did Lorna Kirkam (nee Callow) and Sarah Maddrell.

More recently the island has seen a number of players continue to make waves in the UK and further afield with David Clark taking the floor for Loughborough University, Kai Kirkham suiting up for Newcastle University, and Ross Wilson playing a key role at Chester. The Island has also produced it’s first professional player with local lad Marcus Quirk signing for NFU Basketball in Taiwan after playing for Cornell College in America. Quite an achievement for a small island nation of 80,000!

The Island has been lucky that so many of its players and officials have stayed involved with the game at local level.  A look in the 1985/86 handbook shows that 14 of the committed officials and team reps of that day were still involved in the sport 21 years on and one or two are still involved to this day!!

With the closure of the Summerland Sports Centre on Douglas Promenade, interest in Basketball drifted and the sport limped through the mid-90’s. However the advent of the NSC and Manx Sport Development enabled Basketball to recover and it is now very much on the up in all areas:-

  1. Three centres run coaching for youngsters every Saturday morning in Douglas, Peel and Castletown alongside one center on Tuesday evenings in Ramsey, all as part of the Manx Youth Games. 
  2. The National Teams have been competing in the Island Games since 1999 and have stayed competitive against the home nations while posting some impressive results against those from further afield. The Ladies team won the bronze medal in 1999 and have featured in the last 2 games in Guernsey and .
  3. The American NBC Camps organisation brought teams and ran a camp on the Isle of Man for over fifteen years.  While the camp has now moved to England, local teams maintain a strong link with NBC and young players have ventured as far as Auburn, Washington to test their skillls with NBC.

These factors combined with the continued support, commitment and effort of all those involved in Basketball on the Isle of Man will ensure that the sport has a bright and prosperous future!

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