#WOMENSWEEK Q&A: ALEX & GEMMA CAMPBELL
11th March 2022
Welcome to another #WomensWeek ‘COLBC Role Models’ Q&A with two of our longest-serving junior players, Alex & Gemma Campbell.
The twins have been with the programme for the whole of their junior careers and play a lead role on our U18 Women’s team, under Head Coach Katie Lamond.
Check out what the girls had to say when we caught up with them to ask a few questions about #InternationalWomensDay
1. What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
I love how there is a full day dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women around the world that don’t all look the same. Not just in sport but in politics, culture, and science. It isn’t just a day that celebrates, but also raises awareness of the issues we face in society like gender inequality and the right to say no. As women we have come so far and it is amazing.
It means a lot to me as it celebrates all the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all across the world. I feel it is a way to really empower women and girls no matter what they do. Whether it be playing sports or having an interest in politics, there is always some representation out there for us as women and girls.
2. How did you get involved in the game and why?
I attended a “come and try” session with my primary school and really enjoyed it. I later decided to attend a community session where I had my first session with Coach Katie Lamond. From there I fell in love with the game and wanted to keep playing. First it was with Coach Ben Allen until Under 16s then Under 18s with Coach Lamond. I enjoy the physical and mental demands that basketball has, and I enjoy how the sport requires you to work as a team (as it is a team sport). There is nowhere to hide on a basketball court as you have to play an active role and I feel I do that well.
I got involved in the game partly through my sister and also through the basketball coach for the girl's programme - Ben Allen. I started partly for enjoyment, but also to play a different type of sport alongside netball.
3. What are the main things you enjoy about the women’s game?
I absolutely adore that the amount of people in England that choose to regularly watch the women’s game has increased massively. It is amazing that so many young girls and women have been inspired by such amazing role models like the Women’s GB Basketball team, to take part in a sport that is so great and competitive.
I enjoy in general playing defence and preventing the opposition from driving to the basket. But more specifically about the women's game, I enjoy setting effective pick n rolls as well as setting up effective plays. As there is a need for a high basketball IQ for efficient play setting.
4. How does it feel to be playing a key role in the U18s with your sister?
I enjoy playing a key role within the u18s squad with Gemma because it has helped me to improve my mentor skills and leadership, both on the court and outside of sport. It has helped me to develop my on-court voice and skill as an all-round player. I like playing side-by-side with Gemma as it has improved our bond as siblings. We are already quite close but playing together has brought us closer. The opportunity to talk to someone else about how our team is doing, that is on the same wavelength as me, and thinks in a similar way to me is great.
Getting time to work well together and also play a key role is fun and at times challenging. It allows us to develop our skills at the same time as leading the team, whether it be scoring, playing defence or ball movement. Scoring is always nice but when you contribute through passing or simple off-ball movement it allows other players in the team a chance to score or make an impact on the game.
5. Describe this women’s season at COLBC?
Our current season record is 3 wins and 7 losses, which doesn’t sound great, however I would say that as a team we have travelled a massive distance, both in miles and in teammate chemistry. At the beginning of the season it felt split between the younger and older more-experienced players, however, now it feels like a close team. We have improved our defensive pressure on the court, communication off and on the court, and how well we move off the ball. I feel like although our season record doesn’t show it, our team has improved so much and has become almost like a family.
The season has been difficult with it being a mixed 16’s and 18’s team. However, it has also been a really enjoyable season, to see the progression of our team from the start of the season to where we are now. I also feel we have progressed as a team not just on the court but off the court as well, as friends not just teammates.
6. How do you think the women’s game sits in this country currently?
Currently I would say the Women’s game in England lacks the same funding as the Men’s game, however I understand that there is less spectatorship and participation. Basketball is very much a male dominated sport as it was created by a man, so I adore how much the female side of the sport, both in participation and spectatorship has grown massively over the years that I've been playing. It is disappointing that there is still a large disparity between the facilities available for male and female basketball athletes in England compared to in America, however it is only getting better.
Currently, it feels as if there is a lack nationally of women and girls in the sport, meaning the small number of girls that do play do not get sufficient amount of time put into their development, as the focus is more on the boys in basketball as a whole. I also feel as though the few good girls' programmes in the country get overlooked more and overall are more underdeveloped.
7. What are your hopes for the women’s programme at COLBC?
In the future I hope that there is a female team at every age group at COLBC. It was disappointing for me at age 13/14 for there to only be around 14 girls interested in playing basketball at Leeds. But now I watch the younger girls sessions and there is such a large quantity of girls taking part. It is amazing how initiatives aimed at females in England such as 'This Girl Can' have improved the participation of girls and women in sport. Basketball is such an amazing sport and every time I think of the first time I picked up a ball and started to play, I feel excited that there are 2 to 3 times more girls taking up the sport.
Looking at the upcoming talent in the Club, from the U12s right up to the U16s there is a lot of skill and potential. I hope that they continue to work and progress both individually and as a whole. I also hope they attract more girls into basketball by continuing to provide positive role models in the local area.
8. What can everyone in the region do to empower women in sport?
I feel that every region should be aiming some sort of initiative at girls and women in sport. Even though there are more of us participating in sport per year I feel that there is still a lack of representation from different ethnic groups and backgrounds. It is great that there is an increase in female role models however they need to be representative of the population they are targeting. There needs to be an improvement in ethnically diverse role models and role models of different ages. Massive initiatives that require huge amounts of funding is not feasible for every region to provide. At a smaller scale, communities should be promoting female grassroots level sport and local clubs with girls programmes, to provide opportunities for them to compete against each other.
When girls first start out trying basketball, they always have to prove themselves to the boys. It always feels as though no matter how good you are they still will not pass to you. It really starts with teaching young boys that just because they're a girl, it does not mean they are worse at the sport than you. In some instances the girls are better than some of or most of the boys but because they don't receive a chance to prove themselves they are overlooked and underestimated. Due to this judgement, from the moment a singular girl is seen in a gym full of boys she is underestimated and it is hard being in that situation. It either forces them to toughen up or give up, and not every person is the same.
Thank you to Alex & Gemma for giving up their time to share their thoughts on International Women's Day. They are outstanding role models to our younger girls and are so grateful to have them around our club.
As we approach a summer full of exciting development for our Women's programme, any girls keen on taking steps into basketball can contact the club on email@example.com