The Kid’s Speech…

I had to magic up a 10 minute speech to over 100 kids today, with about five seconds notice – easy!

Not quite.  I was asked to assist Mersey Tigers star, David Aliu, at a primary school in Liverpool, to do some basketball coaching (which was odd in itself because I’m not the tallest person in the world or the most coordinated with my hands).

Upon arrival, a lovely teacher by the name of…erm…Miss, escorted us to the assembly hall where a bunch of kids were, well – assembled!

‘What’s the plan?’ I asked David.

‘They want us to give a 15 minute speech then take the Year 6 out for some exercises.  So if you can give a 10 minute speech about the club and the sport then pass it over to me that would be great.’

I particularly liked the way Aliu divided the talking time up evenly there.

Before I knew it the head teacher had introduced us and I was on my feet, a hundred kids gawping at my unprepared self, waiting for some kind of exciting performance that the teahcers had, no doubt, built it up to be.

I began with:

‘So, who here has already been to a Mersey Tigers basketball game?’ I said it in a surprisingly camp fashion – a little bit Blue Peter and a little bit Gok Wan.  Still, it worked and I got a response which seemed to ignite this whole speech full of basketball facts accompanied with animated arm movements and smiles.

I morphed into a basketball guru and a complete season review for the Mersey Tigers came flooding out of my mouth, as if the knowledge was kegged in the back of my mind and that first question stabbed a tap into the old wood.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so conscious of my mouth.  It felt dry.  Swollen. I could envisage the white residue forming at the corners of my lips.  Nonetheless, I finished my fully improvised speech and, apparently, it was a success.

David finished his ‘half’ of the presentation and we asked the children if they had any questions, two of which really stuck out:

Hilarious 7 year old in the front row:

“Do you know your brain, yeah? Is that connected to your mind?”

The second question came from a Year 6 trying to suss me out:

“So you’re press, yeah?”

“Yep.”

“Where’s your camera then?”

“I don’t need it today, mate.  I’ll have one at the games though.”

“Okay.  You have a notebook and that, yeah?”

“Yep.”

“And a laptop and that, yeah?”

“Yeah all that, mate.”

“Okay, sound.”

Brilliant.

Mersey Tigers

Mersey Tigers are the number one professional basketball team in Britain at the moment.  I began working with them through JDG Media in November 2010 and have since progressed rapidly as a sports journalist.

I produce content for their official website, their match day programmes and the local newspapers.  Working with one of JDG Media’s top clients requires me to write to a consistently high standard, with the best interests of the client always in mind.

Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sky Sports and Granada Reports, at venues like the O2 Arena, is a major perk of the job and I’ve been lucky enough to press alongside some of the country’s top journos as a result.

The opportunity to interview pro athletes from the British Basketball League has been a major bonus for me too.  Transcribing these interviews quickly is essential when writing match reports and choosing which quotes to actually use in the report, is often a delicate task.

When covering the game, I’m also responsible for regularly updating the Facebook and Twitter pages for the Tigers.

Overall, the experience I’ve gained from working with such an organisation has dramatically enhanced my abilities as a reporter.

One to Watch – BBL Play-off Final

Sheffield Sharks match up against league champions, Mersey Tigers, this weekend at the play-off final in Birmingham.  The Sharks embarrassed Mersey the last time these two met in a cup final at the NIA but somehow, we don’t think it’s going to be so easy this time around…

Mersey are in the hunt for the treble on Saturday after winning the BBL League championship and the BBL Trophy already this season.  The Sharks could make it a cup double themselves after claiming the BBL Cup against the Tigers back in January.

I suppose you could say it’s a grudge match but the reality is – these two teams are among the best to watch in the BBL and even if you don’t follow basketball, there’s going to plenty of things to enjoy…

…anybody who reads this site regularly (wishful thinking I know!) will be well aware of our ‘light obsession’ with the BBL Babes.  They’re the official cheerleading squad for the BBL and always put on a show at the major finals.  We’re massive fans of their talent and are secretly our main reason for pitching Saturday’s final as this week’s One to Watch.

The BBL mascot, Foxy, always seems to show up at these finals too and is renowned for his mischief.  During the BBL Trophy final, Foxy burst onto the O2 Arena court during a fourth quarter time-out, ruffled up the hair of a BBL Babe, fireman’s-carried another around the place and eventually set her down on the court-floor before putting an advertising board over her head!  When the cheerleader struggled the sign off of her, it crashed down into the commentator’s table and knocked into a Mersey Tigers player!

So, if you don’t like basketball but like cheerleaders and violent men in fancy dress – go and see Scream 4 …okay I’m kidding – tune into SKY Sports 4 on Saturday at 3.30pm and watch the show. All joking aside, it’s going to be a great spectacle and a fantastic finale to what has been a gladiatorial season in the British Basketball League.