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Ulster University in Jordanstown and NUI Galway have been confirmed as the first two Basketball Ireland Centres of Excellence.

Basketball Ireland is rolling out ambitious plans for 8 to 10 Centres of Excellence, which will be located across the country.

Each Centre of Excellence will provide access to expertise, such as strength and conditioning, sports medicine, sports psychology, diet and nutrition, sports management and administration, coach development and training. They will also have media and meeting facilities.

The Centres of Excellence will be used for national training camps for international sides, along with Basketball Ireland academies. There will also be the ability to host international fixtures, national senior competitions, intervarsity competitions, as well as local schools cups and blitzes.

Basketball Ireland CEO, Bernard O’Byrne, who has spearheaded the initiative with colleague Colman O’Flynn, said:

“We are delighted to be teaming up with NUIG and Ulster University. Both institutions have wonderful facilities and a proven track record in sport, developing athletes for elite competition. These Centres of Excellence are a major infrastructural initiative by Basketball Ireland to deliver world-class facilities and will give our international players and teams the best chance of success when they compete. These Centres of Excellence will be geographically spread, meaning there will be top of the range resources available to local basketball communities in every corner of the country. We want everyone participating in the sport to have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. We have seen a surge in interest in basketball in Ireland and we are determined to continue its growth.”

Dr. Nigel Dobson, Head of Sports Services at Ulster University also welcomed the designation as a Centre of Excellence:

“At Ulster University we are passionate about performance and helping people fulfil their potential. We have a long history in basketball, with a number of international players coming through the university, Emer Howard, Deirdre Brennan, Gareth Maguire, Adrian Fulton and more recently Alex Mulligan and the Quinn twins, Conor and Aidan.. Ulster University has also been competing in the men’s and women’s National League since 2005/06 season. This partnership with Basketball Ireland for a Centre of Excellence at our Jordanstown campus builds upon the great work of Patrick O’Neill, our joint basketball development officer and continues our joint pursuit of excellence in the sport.”

Prof. Deirdre Brennan, Ulster University senior academic and coach added:

“Basketball has always been an integral part of Ulster University sporting culture since its inception. We have been graced with Irish Internationals dating back to 70’s, who have helped us win multiple varsity and college titles. We are thrilled with the development of a Basketball Ireland Centre of Excellence and look forward to welcoming international teams and players, as well as local clubs, to avail of the excellent facilities and resources we have on offer.”