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Junior National League Season Preview: The calm before the storm

The City Of Leeds Basketball Club is delighted to release our preview of the Junior National League Season with words from all the coaches ahead of the opening weekend.

The 2023/24 Basketball England Junior National League season begins this weekend with a full slate of games down at LBU Arena as our age group teams tip-off looking for a strong start to the year.

COLBC Director Matt Newby was excited for the club’s 16th year of consecutive competition since founding the club in 2007:

“The start of the Junior National League season is always an exciting time for players, parents and coaches alike. We'd like to thank our membership for their continued commitment to the City Of Leeds programme. This season will again see us field 19 teams across national & regional competition. I am anticipating another season of strong development and our coaching staff are working very hard to put our young chargers in a position to compete. I’d like to thank all our staff for their continued efforts in the community and in both our development and performance tiers.

COLBA - Coach Matt Newby & Coach James Quinn

"This is a significant year for the Academy, as we continue to establish ourselves in the Academy tiers, vying for promotion from the U18 Conference back to the Premier Division and embarking on re-establishing our presence in the senior ranks with our entry in to Men's Division 3. We've had a very positive pre-season and the players are excited about the challenges that lie ahead. We would like to thank Allerton High School for its ongoing support for the City Of Leeds Basketball Academy and look forward to continuing to develop the whole Leeds pathway." - Matt Newby

"In my third year with our Academy, I am privileged yet again to work alongside Coach Newby with our incoming cohort of COLBA athletes. It's an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the City Of Leeds programme and we've set our targets very high for this season, hopeful that we will have achieved all of our goals come March. I personally look forward to welcoming everyone to our first home fixture back in Division 3 in October... Let's pack the arena!" - James Quinn

The Academy is delighted to also announce that Murray Bingham will join the Academy as Strength & Conditioning coach following another summer working within the basketball programme at UCLA and he was excited to get to work after the last few weeks.

"We’ve got a great group of emerging prospects coming into the season this year, and I'm very excited to have the opportunity to contribute to their growth as athletes and young men. My aims this season are to take the raw talent that we have in abundance and give the guys the tools to apply it to the court. The energy and ambition of the cohort make me confident we have a successful season on our hands in a number of areas. I'm looking forward to immersing myself in the developing culture of commitment and excellence. - Murray Bingham

COLBC U18 Men - Coach Andy Cragg

“With a strong mix of returning players and new arrivals we should be a force to be reckoned with this season. We plan to operate a run and gun offense with a shoot first, aggressive attitude. I will do my very best to support these talented young athletes in my first solo coaching season.

We can't wait to get to it!”

COLBC U18 Women - Coach Katie Lamond

"An important year for these girls, from coming off the back of a positive set of performances last season and it also marks the 'last dance' in a way for a large group of the U18s cohort. A lot of these girls have been together for multiple seasons, and it's a real chance to demonstrate not only their tactical cohesion, but also to promote their individual development over the years. We are all looking forward to completing this season on a high. I can't wait for a season full of strong team performances."

COLBC U16 Boys Gold - Coach Sam Messam & Coach Jake Shuttlewood

"There is nothing like the first practice and then the first game of a new season. The anticipation and excitement of what is to come is everywhere. This will be my 7th year at COLBC and the club, the players and their families have become a part of who I am. I am looking forward to sharing every pass, shot, and dribble with the u16 Boys this year as we add to our basketball memories.

We hope to continue to build, develop and grow our basketball and life skills. It is going to be a tough year, the league is strong and includes teams that consistently get to the Final Fours. However, what better way is there to stretch and challenge young athletes! Let’s go COLBC!!" - Sam Messam

“I am excited at the proposition of developing a young and energetic group, full of potential, that will compete against some of the best teams in the country. I am fortunate to be assisting an established and experienced coach in Sam and look forward to the season ahead.“ - Jake Shuttlewood

COLBC U16 Boys Black & White - Coach Jake Shuttlewood

“For the second straight year, I will be coaching at the U16 level, both in the conference and regionally, and after spending the summer developing the group, I’m excited to see theor growth against competitive teams that will challenge every player on the squad. I can’t wait to see them thrive over the course of the season, and I’m thrilled to be in a position to stretch all the players technically, tactically and physically in practice and games. Let’s go Leeds!”

COLBC U16 Girls Gold - Coach Ryan Weir

"In what will be my first season coaching on the girls side, I am excited to see what the group can achieve. With a mix, of last year’s successful under 14s gold, joining the experienced players remaining from last years U16s, we have a strong group that we hope will continue to grow throughout the year."

COLBC U16 Girls Black - Coach Katie Lamond

"Following on from a successful year with COLBC, I am eager to see what trials and challenges the 2023-24 will bring. It's an exciting year for the girls programme, with the squads showing exceptional potential for not only significant development, but the opportunity to really step up to that performance expectation. I'm beyond excited to see it all unfold!"

COLBC U14 Boys Gold - Coach Ryan Weir

"In the 2023/24 season, the clubs, top tier under 14s boys will compete in the North Premier. With multiple returning players and young group excited to learn, we have a group that will be extremely interesting to follow. We look forward to getting on the court, and applying everything we learned in practice"

COLBC U14 Boys Black - Coach Alex Scott

"The preseason sessions have been really promising and I hope this signifies the start of a season full of terrific improvement in both the players' skills and basketball IQ, as well as lots of fun! I personally am looking forward to taking this amazing opportunity to grow alongside this group of young men this season."

COLBC U14 Boys White - Coach Olly Kerwin-Clegg

"I’m extremely excited for the season ahead with the U14’s white team. We have many players returning for a second full season of Junior National League Basketball, alongside younger plays taking a strong first step into competitive play. Our goals for this season is to develop both technically and tactically working hard each practice and game. I’m very excited to begin my first season as a coach and have been privileged with a great group of young people. The boys have had a very promising pre-season and we cannot wait to play our first game."

COLBC U14 Girls - Coach Matt Newby & Greta Luksyte

"The U14s girls tier continues to go from strength to strength and there is a lot of returning players who cut tier teeth in their first national league season last year. This group genuinely have a passionf or the sport and its great to establish such a strong foundation to our pyramid with these young players." - Matt Newby

"I am thrilled to collaborate with this exceptional group of talented young local girls. Their passion for the sport and dedication to improvement give me great confidence in our prospects for the upcoming season, and I look forward to the successes we aim to achieve together in the coming year" - Greta Luksyte

COLBC U12 & U11 Boys - Coach Dave Salisbury

"I can't wait to get the season started with the U11s and U12s. We have some boys who played with our club last year and quite a few who are new to organised basketball. This season and age group is all about instilling a love for the game and establishing great fundamentals. The boys have been so enthusiastic through summer series and September training. We have made lots of progress and the players and I are itching to pull on the team uniform, represent our club and put our learning to the test in games."

Club Administration Manager - Tina Campbell

The club is also delighted to announce that our longstanding and dedicated club employee, Tina Campbell will join the club full-time from next week as Club Administration Manager. Tina looked forward to the first weekend of the season:

"I am very excited of the prospect of what the 2023/24 season will hold for us. Having so many teams across varying levels of competition is going to be a challenge that we will take well within our stride,. I am, however, particularly looking forward to having the men’s game back at LBU with our Division 3 entry. In addition, personally having had daughters come through our programme in the past, I am looking forward to seeing the growth of the female players from our community and foundation arm progressing into our club aspect, being inspired by the existing players and development of the female game as a whole for the club."

All supporters are welcome to our first game day at LBU Arena this Saturday 30th September from 12pm... Let's go Leeds!

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