Reidy ready to help Basketball Ireland bounce back as he prepares to assume presidency

By Stephen Leonard

FORMER Dublin Lions clubman, PJ Reidy remains optimistic Basketball Ireland can successfully tackle the unprecedented challenges it currently faces as he prepares to take up the post of President of the organisation.

A founding member and former treasurer of the Clondalkin-based Lions, having previously been heavily involved with Rathcoole Rockets, Reidy will assume his new position once ratified at the Annual General Meeting of Basketball Ireland, scheduled for September.

PJ REIDY compressor

Former Dublin Lions stalwart, PJ Reidy, pictured here presenting Sarah Fleming with the MVP award following the All-Ireland Schools U19A Girls League Final back in February, is gearing up to take over as President of Basketball Ireland in what is one of the organisation’s most challenging times

With a huge amount of revenue having already been lost to the organisation as a result of the COVID-19 crises, Reidy accepts there will be a number of major speedbumps on the road to recovery but believes that, with sufficient Government support, they will have the sport back up and running.

Indeed Reidy has seen Basketball Ireland weather other tremendously difficult periods as he told The Echo “We were in a worse position eight years ago when we didn't have a penny, when we had a massive debt, but we got through that without much government help.

“We were just told to get your shop in order which we did and, in fairness to Bernard O'Byrne and Donal Walsh and the lads there, they did a super job. We don't owe now, we don't have a debt at the moment.

“Now we've also had no income for the last three months. We would have had a lot of finals going on, whether they be schools or whatever where the Arena could have been full on a number of days and, by full, I mean you could have had maybe a thousand people in for one match and then you might have a different thousand people in from the schools for the next match.

“There's a lot of money missed out on there and also our National Camps haven't happened, so there is going to be a hole and we would hope government will support us.

“There are a lot of challenges really because with it being an indoor sport, that's the biggest issue.

“It's not like you're out on a field and people can stand two metres apart. You're in a very confined area.

“For getting supporters in to watch matches, that's going to be an issue now, whether people wear masks, whether matches happen behind closed doors, we don't know.

“But the thing about games being played behind closed doors, the clubs rely on the finance from the door to cover, say, maybe the costs of having an American player playing with them in Super League.

“I'm involved heavily in schools basketball as well and you'd be wondering what will the appetite be for schools to have basketball or will they have enough problems with the social distancing without having to worry about extra-curricular sports and all that. You just don't know what's going to happen.

“We'll be totally guided by medical advice and government guidelines.

“In fairness, we pulled the plug on basketball before we were told to do so. We were very proactive in that and I guarantee you there won't be any situation where we'll be putting anybody in danger.

“But you have to realise too that the numbers are going down.

 “Our hope would be that, look, we've done a very good job with the virus at the moment and we're just hoping that it continues like that. And if that happens, then maybe we can have people at matches, not only basketball, but any sport.

“But it's not really practical to have two metres between every supporter at a basketball match when you're in an indoor court. And even with people playing, they will come within two metres of people.”

“We're not the only sport who are going to have issues like this. The government are fair enough across all sports.

“I'd like to sit down with them when I become President and I hope that we get that opportunity.

“We could just go through it and see well, maybe we might be entitled to a little bit more, what can we do to maybe get a little bit more funding?

“It's a tricky one, all sports and all arts are going to be looking for money and you just hope that there'll be a fair distribution of it and I've no doubt there will be” he said.

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