In 2016, Hills Basketball Association launched a campaign to encourage females to play Basketball. The concept I am a GIRL. I can do anything! I can play BASKETBALL. was launched as a print campaign and proved very successful in promoting Women’s Basketball.
Funding plays a major part in the equation to expose Women’s Basketball. Sports such as Women’s AFL & Cricket are supported by both Government grants and the Men’s National Leagues, which are owned by the National Sporting Organisation. Resources and support provided to their respective Women’s Leagues has resulted in increases in female grass roots participation, supporters, game officials and most importantly a connection to positive role models and leadership.
As a sport, Basketball has been exposed predominately through our Men’s National Basketball League (NBL) and in 2016/2017 season the League has produced campaigns and coverage to show the extent of talent and the games capacity to entertain. This is a huge step forward for Basketball not only in exposure but in the potential to retain talented athletes and to draw world-wide recognition. Unfortunately the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) struggles to gain free-to-air or Pay TV exposure, retain athletes and funding. As the NBL continues to grow, hopefully more resources and publicity will be available to expand Women’s Basketball. But our structure is different to those of AFL & Cricket, so other sources may need to be found to solve our issues.
Anyone who works in sport knows that it takes time, considerable effort and money to promote from the top down. And as an Association, we can see changes both at State and National level to regain the sporting market. However this will take time and it can’t be our only solution. So as an Association we decided to take on one of our biggest issues …. female participation numbers. We needed to show the community that Basketball is a game for everyone, no matter size or skill. That you are not limited to one position or area, that Basketball provided a platform for fun, friendships, development and healthy lifestyle.
Thanks to a very talented local photographer, Cirilo Almario and a mixture of female players from the Association (ranging from 5-16yrs) the group came together to illustrate the enthusiasm, passion and dedication for Women’s Basketball.
The I am a GIRL. I can do anything! I can play BASKETBALL. campaign was never about evening up the ratio of males to females, it was about awareness and encouragement. Our main aim was to increase participation levels for 8-16yr girls and to provide multiple grades for each age group. While Hills Basketball is the second largest Association in New South Wales, the retention rate for girls was much lower than boys. Surveys confirmed that lack of grades within competitions was the main catalyst for withdraw. Girls would compete against experienced and elite players in their first season, often resulting in embarrassment and humiliation. The Association implemented quick fixes such as the ‘mercy rule’ and ‘representative rule’ and while they helped reduce the impact they did not resolve the issue. A larger number of teams and a variety of grades was always the solution, we needed to increase participation numbers and we needed additional programs to help in their development. But firstly, we needed a campaign to help drive numbers.
While the campaign was never aimed to be a quick fix, it did provide an increase in numbers and slowly we are seeing results. The campaign was stagnated throughout the year to build and encourage girls to take a step towards playing and with additional courts due to open June 2017, the growth should allow for further expansion of competitions.