More basket, fewer balls for college league

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College basketball teams who fail to field at least one female player in their team will be at a disadvantage under new guidelines being trialled this term.

The rules, implemented by the College Basketball League, mean that those teams which put forward a team with a least one woman playing at all times will win three league points for every game they win. Victorious all male teams, however, will gain one point, the equivalent of a draw and one point more than a forfeited game.

The trial of the gender quota has been introduced in order to attract more female players to basketball at college level. At present, there is no all female College Basketball League, the only opportunity for female players being Trinity term cuppers.

Zoe Fannon, the outgoing league coordinator and Somerville finalist explained the reasoning behind the quota. She commented: “I have met several women who would like to play basketball in Oxford but either didn’t know how to go about it, or couldn’t play on the University teams.”

She added: “By requiring the college league teams to include female players, there’s an impetus for the college league captains to make an effort to find and encourage the female players in their colleges. I think this is the most effective way of creating an opportunity with those women across the university who do want to play, and also with those women who maybe would like to give it a try.”

She was joined in her support of the scheme by women’s Blues basketball captain Abigail Edmonds: “I think it’s obvious that having mixed teams is the way to go. Both girls and boys learn much more about team dynamics and skills playing the other gender. The real skill comes in making the sum of the individuals greater than the whole.”

Some college basketball captains, however, have expressed concerns that they will struggle to attract female players to their teams to comply with the new rules.

Amar Hodzic, a 3rd year engineering student and captain of the Teddy Hall team, commented: “I think the rule will make it harder for everyone, finding two or three girls willing to play every week won’t be easy as there isn’t enough interest. I have nothing against the mixed league, everyone should be welcomed to play and a lot of teams have had female players in the past.”

He added: “In my opinion, [the quota] should remain optional and not enforced upon us. Penalising teams for not having girls is just silly.”

Other college captains were more positive, including Ben Campbell of the St Hugh’s basketball team: “I think the new rule was put in place with the best intention. It’s important that we make college basketball as inclusive and open as possible, especially given that it’s a sport many people may never have played before.”

However, he expressed concerns about the fairness of a quota, stating that: “It’s not fair to have a team of guys and not be able to play a match just because we haven’t been able to find a woman to play. Making a ‘win with a woman’ seem more praiseworthy than winning without a woman seems, to me, to actually be detrimental to bringing equality to the sport.”

The new scheme is still in its trial stages, and will continue to be adapted based on the outcome of the games currently being played. Fannon described the gender quota scheme as an ‘interim strategy’, designed to allow more women to get involved in basketball at a college level, given the difficulties in coordinating a separate women’s league.

Separate cuppers tournaments for male and female teams will continue to be held during Trinity term.

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