Poole Piranhas - John Le Page is IN THE SPOTLIGHT
You must really have a love for basketball to have set up Poole Piranhas Basketball Club – tell us your story?
I caught the basketball bug in 1993 when I accidentally recorded Game 4 of the 1993 NBA finals on an old VHS tape. I was captivated by the game instantly; the flashy moves, the crowd excitement, the passion of all involved, the fans, and the elegance of it. Of course, Michael Jordan of the Bulls dominated the show and was the one I noticed first. I guess the impression he left on me that day never went away. I was not interested in football – the muck and more ‘heavy contact’ nature of the sport never appealed to me. So, basketball offered me a more tailored version of the great game of football that I could enjoy and compete. After many years of playing school and college basketball, I took a 20+ year ‘hiatus’ until I was looking for a break in my digital career to do something quite different. Coaching basketball seemed like a great route to go as it gave me a chance to give something back to those in my community, from the sport that gave me so much joy when I was young. There were not many coaching opportunities around, so I dug deep, set my sights high and created the club three years ago, and the rest is history.
Complete the sentence. Basketball is…?
Basketball is a sport for all ages and abilities. The fast pace means the action keeps coming, making it fun, with great health benefits too.
What does a typical basketball session at Poole Piranhas look like?
Our sessions follow a formula we have refined over the years. We start with a dynamic warm-up to get all the muscles active, followed by two themed skill-based drills (such as defence or shooting). We then progress into a series of short games, focusing on the skills we have just learned.
Who can attend the club?
We cater for 6- to 16-year-olds, through a series of session types that relate to age and ability. Our training groups are for beginners and intermediates; Kinder is 6-7 years, Nippers is 8-9 years, Juniors is 10-13 years, Seniors is 14-16 years. Our advanced level groups play matches against local teams – U12s for those 10-11 years, U14s 12-13 years, and U17s 14-16 years.
How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect the club?
It affected the club positively. We trebled our numbers in 12 months and are moving venues this week to accommodate the demand. I think it was a wake-up call to many when sport and recreation was forcibly taken away from us and made us realise how important and enjoyable it can be. We get an enquiry pretty much every day now.
Tell us your favourite basketball team and who is your favourite player, past or present?
Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan.