Engaging and retaining young players

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Basketball England


Basketball England is the sport’s National governing body and wanted to develop a pilot programme for co-ordinating engagement at a local level with children and young people.


Amongst 11-15 year olds, basketball is the second most popular sport to play, yet half of participants stop completely when they leave school at 16 – and less than a third of the players remaining will still be involved at 21 years of age. Drop-off is even more dramatic amongst female players. The sport also lacked presence.

Whilst grass roots organisations and clubs had been doing good work to engage young people, they are working in isolation, often having lost faith in the governing body due to a history of poor government funding versus other less popular sports.

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Between the ages of 11-16, people reduce their repertoire of activities as they deal with social, school and economic pressures. If they continue playing any sport, it’s usually only one and is the most accessible to them - usually football. Above all else, this is the period where our sense of personal identity is forged and that takes precedence over everything else.

By speaking to those who chose Basketball, we discovered that what kept them involved was the sense of freedom, shared passion and self-expression that came from playing without pressure to win, and playing something that was distinct from the mainstream.


We positioned playing basketball as an expression of personal identity, and developed the City of Basketball brand which encouraged each and any player to express ‘my game’, whatever level or form that might take. The brand acts as an umbrella for a wide range of activation programmes including formal and informal play.

The City of Basketball marque was localised to each participating city to reinforce the promise of ownership and shared social engagement. The bold visual identity was based on the design language of the court and a tone of voice that emphasised the emotions of playing rather than achievement. Flexible for use on everything from event hoardings to uniforms to apps, for elite players to Sunday dabblers to recruiting coaches.

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“We need to create the right basketball experiences to attract and keep people in the sport.”
Stuart Kellett, Chief Executive Officer, Basketball England
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