Stef Collins

Week 55 (3 - 10 October 2014)

When the England women's rugby team won the World Cup for the first time this summer, the media hailed their achievement as a tipping point for the sport – the claim being that from here on in, women's rugby will be markedly different in terms of perception and, more importantly, playing numbers. But it is not just rugby in which women are blazing a trail through sport in Britain, they are also doing it in basketball.

This weekend sees the start of the inaugural Women's British Basketball League (WBBL), consisting of 10 teams from Cardiff to Barking and as far north as Northumbria. The league will run until April and is looking to capitalise on the recent success of Team GB who have qualified for next year's EuroBasket tournament.

Any fledgling sports concept relies on creating stars out of its athletes. The poster girls (and boys) drive ticket sales, sponsorship deals and make kids want to play the game. Luckily for the WBBL they have a ready-made star, and on-message spokesperson, in Team GB captain Stef Collins.

This week the 31-year-old, who plays for the Cardiff Met Archers, neatly summarised the state of the sport and how the new league fits into the sport's grand plan.

"We are making great strides in advocating the women's game and I only hope it catches like wildfire," she said.

"Basketball continues to rise in popularity and the formation of the WBBL will only help inspire our youth, creating greater bonds between communities involved with grassroots and participation, creating a catalyst effect in inviting girls and women to catch a game and see the standard of competition taking place.

"I truly believe the London Olympics has had a lasting impression on the UK.

"We are seeing many more talented youths coming up through the systems, with plenty of players developing through the national team structures."

Photo: WN.com