50 days to go – the +50 Men’s journey

24 dodgy knees, 12 men, two hoops, one ball and 50 days to go until the first major international tournament this team has participated in.

As the +50 Men’s team that competed in ESBA, Albufeira, Portugal 2023, matured into mid 50’s a proactive recruitment drive was required to secure a robust over 50’s team to compete in Pesaro. September saw the appointment of Coach Dominic Short, who’s background as assistant coach with the Birmingham Rockets has brought valuable knowledge and experience to the team.  

The coach has had to work quickly to build the team, his expectations have been exceeded by the engagement of the players who sometimes have felt that their minds and bodies have had differing opinions on their level of involvement.  Mark Taylor says – I feel 23 in my head, shame my body feels 53!  

Captain Paul Hoborough has always felt that the coach has supported them, protected them and respected their needs throughout.   Phil Jebb says that the feeling around the team is good, giving encouragement to each other.  He feels the team is highly skilled, coaching and practice is developing the teams understanding of each other and the game.  Phil Jebb really feels that the training sessions have refined his game, preparing him for the international tournament.  The coaching team is always watching – giving pointers for him to improve.  

Danny James says – We have come a long way since January and are starting to gel together.

Training once a month and playing domestic tournaments does require a lot of commitment from the players.  They reside all over the country from Bristol, Wales, Newcastle, Essex to Hull.  Before meeting on the training court they were strangers, now they are bonded together, trusting each other to put in maximum effort to give each other the best chance of securing a trophy.  

As for expectations, we expect to play to our strengths with passion and commitment. We concentrate on the things that make us better and control the things we can control. Our successes and our challenges are as a team and that team spirit is based on the non negotiable attitudes and behaviours of elite level sport. With that the results will look after themselves.

Paul Hoborough – Captain

As well as time constraints with many of our players having very successful careers and businesses, age has meant that players have had to take training carefully and seriously to avoid injury.  It helps that within the team there are players and coaches with expertise in areas that lower the risks of injury.  Captain Paul Hoborough, a successful physio and shockwave advocate, leads warm ups and has been providing physio sessions during tournaments to accelerate recovery.  

Assistant Coach, Mark Taylor, is also a veteran of the game. He brings a wealth of experience to the court and has brought many players to our team.  He comments that although he met some of the guys when he was just 14, he is all in for the future of the squad. 

The team feels like home, I’ve seen such potential and growth, and with new additions, we are really building for the future – with more to come.

Mark Taylor – Assistant Coach

Some of the players rediscovered basketball after a few years away, some however have never been away.  Phil Jebb has played at Masters level for a number of years, with the Hull Hornets, allowing him to travel all over the UK.  This is the obvious next step in his playing career, pulling on his GB top for the first time will be a great privilege – he says.  

Similarly Danny James commented, having the opportunity to still be able to play at this age is great, to have the chance to play in a GB vest is simply fantastic!  All of the players are looking forward with excited trepidation to the forthcoming tournament in Pesaro, Italy. Danny James thinks that sharing the court with players from across Europe will be a wonderful experience.

Pulling on the red, white & blue of GB is something I have never taken for granted, lifts my game and in turn, as captain gives me an opportunity to lift the team. Being selected is one thing, putting the kit on is the real moment, the moment where for just a second, time stops and you realise what this actually means.

Paul Hoborough – Captain