A Bradford women’s basketball team may have to disband if they do not get the help from their local community in the funding of their sports hall where they practice.
Bradford Cobras are an all inclusive club which has players of all abilities, backgrounds and cultures, who come together to thrive both on and off the court.
However, Bradford College have said they will have to start charging the team to use their sports facilities as the college’s costs are currently running too high.
Bradford Cobra’s coach, Zaman Akbary, said: “We are under pressure. Bradford College are asking us to pay for the sports hall and we can’t afford that. We don’t have any budget left. They are asking for £35 an hour. We can get 20 per cent discount but in the meantime, we are looking to apply for some funding and get help from the community if possible.”
Zaman works at Bradford College but volunteers his own free time for the girls.
“We really are struggling with the financial side of things. Everything else seems quite good. We entered the team in the league again and we’re looking forward to playing matches, our next one is 13th November.”
Set up last year by students, Ezdihar Abdulmula, known as Ezzy, and Zaman Akbary, the team have had a successful year, finishing fourth in the local league and reaching the semi-finals of the cup.
Despite a lack of funding, the club continues to act as an important social hub for players with both Ezzy and Zaman ‘putting their hands in their pockets’ to keep the club running in recent months.
Explaining why they had taken the decision to set up the club, Ezzy said: “There were a number of reasons behind it.
“I was without a club having finished university last year so needed somewhere to play.
“Zaman and I both already coached within the Bradford Dragons set-up but there was no women’s team at that time.
“We also wanted to create a place for girls, who aren’t necessarily students, to play. They are under-represented in basketball but there is a desire to get on the court.
“Some of our players travel from Harrogate, Huddersfield and Leeds just to train here.”
Zaman and Ezzy, both 22, volunteer and run the club, with any money paid for membership going towards helping fund league entry and payment of referees.
“Some people were critical of us setting up the women’s team,” Ezzy added, “saying because there is no funding around we won’t be able to get anywhere.
“We have both put a lot of money into setting this place up – getting the kits sorted, referees, and league fees and even now there are more challenges to overcome.”
Zaman continued: “We have proven a lot of people wrong this year and the main reason for that is the team spirit and self-belief.
“A lot of our girls have hardly played basketball before. This year they have faced players from England’s Women’s Basketball League and only lost by a couple of points.
“Everyone affiliated with the team can hold their heads high.”
Over a dozen nationalities represent the club and the team remains high in spirits. The coaches say the team are ‘like a family’.
“We are breaking down barriers here,” Ezzy said. “We have girls from all cultures and backgrounds. Girls are playing whilst still being covered with their hijabs.
“A lot of people have learnt from us and we have learnt from them too.”
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