Derbyshire Gems set to make history with first match in National Basketball League

It has been a wait of some 26 years of basketball development in the Chesterfield area. But on Saturday, the Encon Derbyshire Gems women's team will play their first-ever match in the National League.

Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 6:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:04 pm
HISTORY GIRLS -- Encon Derbyshire Gems, who are poised to make their debut in the National Women's Basketball League.

And thrilled captain Kate Loftus says she can’t wait to get started with a crunch clash in the Second Division away to Mansfield Giants.

It could be a baptism of fire for Gems, but Loftus says: “I am really excited for the season to begin and I feel the team are ready.

“The girls can’t wait to get started and, in terms of fitness and on-court action, I think we are almost there.

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“It’s been a real journey since I started at the Gems a couple of years ago. From winning only two games in the local league during my first season with an average of six players at games and even fewer at training, we have turned it round to a season last year with only one loss.

“Now we are heading into National League action with a team of talent. It is an honour to be leading this team of great players into our first game.”

With regard to that opening fixture, which starts at 2.15 pm at the Oak Tree Leisure Centre in Mansfield, Loftus added: “It’s an exciting one. Not only because it’s our first at National League level but also because there is a lot of history between Mansfield and some of our players.

“I played for them during their first season, while Helena Palmer had a stint there and Rachel Campbell, plus two of our new signings, Frankie Harper and Jade Clemenson, all played for them last season.”