Oaklands Wolves bringing top-flight basketball to St Albans
PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 October 2016 | UPDATED: 13:27 06 October 2016
Top-flight sport is heading to St Albans from this weekend in the shape of Oaklands Wolves Basketball Club - and they are not there just to make up the numbers.
The College have been accepted as one of two new franchises in the Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL), the highest level of women’s basketball in the country.
It is part of huge plans for basketball at the college and coach Kenrick Liburd says with the strength of talent at his disposal, there is no reason why they cannot upset a few of the more established teams.
He said: “My job isn’t to look at what others have; it’s to get the best out of what we have.
“We’ve got some kids from Europe coming in and a couple of seniors we’re looking to bring in but that doesn’t mean we won’t try to compete with our young players.
“It’s been proven by other clubs in the WBBL that it is possible. Last year I was with Barking Abbey and we were in the final and they were based around an academy programme as well.
“I think we have comparable talents so why not us this year?”
Liburd has plenty of experience behind him having spent time in America coaching Tennessee Temple University.
But he says the plans in place for Oaklands, with development of young talent from Hertfordshire as well as the rest of Britain a priority, made the decision to move to the club an easy one.
He said: “I met with Lee [Ryan, the performance coach] and Michael [Ball, GM] and the vision of what they wanted to do really aligned with the way I wanted to do things as well.
“I want to develop youth, teaching them how to play individual basketball and fit those skills into a team setting.
“This is what they do here. It’s about developing young people, making them better people off the court, and better basketball players on it.
“For me it was an easy fit.
“We feel like we’ve done a pretty good job, pulling a group together that is young, British talent.
“For us we’re showing a commitment to developing young British kids in this region and that’s really important to us.
I’ve only been back in England for two years having worked in the States and the growth and what they are trying to do here shows it’s not just about having a top team. It’s about developing basketball for the region to better the area.
“For me that’s amazing and moving forward, I wanted to be with someone making English basketball better.”
Wolves start their campaign this Sunday with a home game against perennial high-flyers Sheffield Hatters.
And coach Liburd thinks that once the St Albans public catch wind of what is happening at the club, it will become a very-popular family day out.
He said: ““They can expect a committed group of players who are going to play a fun brand of basketball, a brand that doesn’t look like a bunch of individuals but does highlight their individual talents.
“They’re not going to see a bunch of robots out there. They’re going to see players who play with freedom and who are putting out the best performance and best product we can.”
Tip-off at Oaklands College Sports Zone is at 2.30pm.