This week’s blog has been written by Laura Kirkhouse, she is another of our new contributors for the site.
She lives in Edinburgh and has spent much of her life glued to a basketball court or football pitch. She is currently playing competitively for the Edinburgh based team Blaze, and is passionate about the women’s pathway that’s been created there.
In recent years she’s enjoyed taking to climbing walls and getting into the hills and munros – a passion her parents instilled in her in childhood. In 2021, she converted a van which she travelled in for a number of months last year, this allowed her to spend a whole summer in the outdoors seeking adventure. This has led her to a job in travel where she promotes outdoor holidays across the UK.
Laura wants to elevate the voices and stories of women in sport so that people can see that there is always an invitation to become a Scottish women in sport – be that by becoming an elite athlete, a supporter on the sideline, a girl attending her first training session or someone just getting a group of friends together for a run around the local park.
SW/S sat down with Hannah Robb just five days after she secured her place for the 2022 Commonwealth Games basketball team – the excitement hadn’t faded. The pride she had in making history alongside her teammates Kennedy Leonard, Sian Philips and Erin McGarrachan in becoming the first Scottish female basketball team to qualify for the Commonwealth Games was palpable.
She proclaimed: “I honestly just had so much fun, and I think you could totally see that in the way we played, we gelled really quickly and I was just smiling the entire time.”
On Wednesday 5th April, both the female and male Scottish 3×3 national teams saw off Wales and Northern Ireland to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.
This particular discipline is new to a lot of people – whether you know anything about basketball or not. Rather than the traditional 5v5 basketball game, each team has just three players on court with one sub. Subs and timeouts are all player led – there’s really nowhere to hide.
The game is first to 21 points or whoever is winning when the buzzer sounds after 10 minutes. This makes for a highly competitive and exciting game – you get tired just watching the constant transition from offence to defence. Hannah has fallen in love with it and it’s obvious that it compliments her game which is fast, fluid and aggressive.
Hannah can’t seem to help but have an extremely clear perspective on this historic moment. For her it’s her basketball journey come full circle: “The first time I played for Scotland on home soil was my under 14 year, in June 2012. And so nearly 10 years later, to be back on home soil, in front of a really great crowd, for such a big event to then qualify for the Commonwealth Games is just something that is really special to me – you couldn’t have written it any better.”
The backdrop to this achievement for Hannah is that she was part of the 5v5 national team that just marginally missed out on qualifying for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. She admittedly called herself ‘a baby’ then, being the youngest in the team that went out to Malaysia to seek qualification. Then, it was all about soaking in the experience. But that sparked something in Robb that gave her added ammunition and hunger to not miss out again.
Robb knows the impact that this kind of achievement can have on the young girls in Scotland who love the game and who have ambition to play basketball at an elite level. There are now serious options for female players in Scotland to compete at the highest level. Six years ago Caledonia Pride, Scotland’s first female pro team, was established and they have been competing in the Women’s British Basketball League ever since.
Hannah was there at its inception and is proud of how the programme, based in Edinburgh, has stayed true to its roots of investing in Scottish talent. It was there that she got to play alongside many of the Scottish players who were her role models as she developed in her youth.
Hannah explains how the experience shaped her: “It was really big for me then as a younger player to come in and play with all my role models and I got so much better in two years. It’s huge for the development of basketball in Scotland to be able to play at the level of WBBL and I’m so happy to see that they are getting the results now. They’ve stuck to their values, which was to develop young Scottish talent and it’s great to see that paying off and the programme taking off. It’s huge for Scottish basketball as a whole.”
It’s clear that she doesn’t take it lightly that she’s now that experienced player who hundreds of younger players will have their eyes glued to: “I kinda sit back and I think wow. There’s nothing but pride, I mean pride doesn’t even begin to cover it.”
Whilst the club scene in Scotland is thriving under the stewardship of Caledonia Pride, it’s undeniable that the senior national team programme is going to be given a huge boost by the monumental achievement of qualifying for the Commonwealth Games. The opportunity that this will bring to shine the light on the women’s game in Scotland cannot be underestimated. For Robb it was always the ultimate goal, to get to perform at the highest level for her country.
After all, as Hannah said, there’s nothing quite like putting on the Scotland jersey: “There’s always just that extra piece of pride knowing I’m representing Scotland. There’s something just about that little kid that did it when she was 13, and never did I think I would be sitting here qualifying for Birmingham, it’s super special. It just sits really close to me getting to represent Scotland.”
But the work doesn’t end here. Qualification was huge, but Hannah’s adamant that Scotland are going to go to Birmingham with a competitive mindset. Anything can happen in 10 minutes, right?
“Obviously we’re super pleased that we’re going to Birmingham. That was the first goal, but now we’re not satisfied to just go there. We want to go and make some noise,
“Anyone can go and play good for 10 minutes, regardless of whether you’re one of the top teams. I think there’s more chance of upsets, so it’s given us a lot of confidence. We know, if we play good basketball for 10 minutes, we can give anyone a game. So we’re ready.”
Hannah now plays with the Leicester Riders and is ready to finish the season strong. She talked about how her role has developed and that she is pushing herself as she steps up into more of a leadership position this season. She told me about her desire to lead by example, quietly conducting herself in a manner that will encourage others to work hard and play with passion.
That leadership and passion was on full display during the Commonwealth Games qualification rounds and we cannot wait to see Hannah bring everything on the court in Birmingham.
Come the end of July, when the Commonwealth Games kick off, why don’t you think about changing the channel to the women’s 3×3 basketball competition. Remember, anything can happen in 10 minutes. You might just fall in love with the game like Hannah has.
Interested in getting involved in the sport? Follow the link for more information and how and where you can participate or spectate here.
Since this article was written we now have two Scottish women’s teams representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Games!
On 14th April, the Scottish women’s wheelchair 3×3 team secured their historic spot in the Commonwealth Games. They were emphatic in their qualification, seeing off the competition from Wales. They showed their class and promise with a resounding 21-0 score in the final. There is lots to get excited about as we head into Birmingham 2022.
Watch this space!