Sheffield Hatters look forward to WBBL Playoff-Semi-Final against Nottingham Wildcats

Georgia Gayle, player for the Sheffield Hatters women’s basketball team has spoken before her sides WBBL Playoff Semi-Final against Nottingham Wildcats this weekend.

The Hatters came fifth in the WBBL regular season but defeated Manchester Knights 90-75 last weekend in the quarter-finals of the playoffs.

Gayle said “We seem to have better games against stronger teams, such as Manchester who we beat last weekend, with the win, we think its good to play Nottingham.”

Although Nottingham came first in the regular season, Sheffield did defeat them twice, beating the Wildcats  82-72 away from home and 62-57 at home.

Gayle is the granddaughter of Betty Cordona, who founded the Hatters as the first female basketball team in the UK in 1961.

The Hatters are the most successful women’s basketball team in the UK, having won 55 national titles throughout their existence. They claimed the WBBL Trophy in the 2015/16 season but have yet to claim a trophy this season.

Speaking about the urge to win a trophy, Gayle said “seeing as though we haven’t won a trophy this season, we probably need one. People expect us to be winning, so because we have had a bad season, as a team we want to win. We are known as winners so that is the mentality right now.”

Georgia’s mother Lorraine, who works as a volunteer administrator for the club after previously playing for the Hatters in the 90’s spoke about the current state of women’s basketball in England.

Speaking about the conditions when her mother founded the club, Lorraine said that players used to wear and make their own dresses, so the game has come a long way.

However, Lorraine criticised the development of the game from amateur to professional. Speaking about her own daughter’s experiences as a player, Lorraine said “the game is still amateur because Georgia has to work to earn money, there’s no money in the game. In terms of how the women’s game has progressed, the majority of our players still have to work for a living. We can’t train in the day like some other teams.”

Lorraine also spoke about the lack of coverage the Hatters accomplishments have received. Speaking about basketball, Lorraine said that it was still a minority sport, but added that being a woman in a minority sport makes it very difficult to get recognition even though their achievements sometimes outstrip those of their male counterparts.

If the Hatters beat the Wildcats this weekend, they will face the Leicester Riders or the Sevenoaks Suns at the 02 Arena on May 14th.

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