Have you played for Wales, even if it was just in one tournament?
According to the WRU, there have been 1,164 capped men at full international level. The first was James Bevan in 1881. He played for Cardiff and Newport, and was studying at St. John’s, Cambridge when he was selected to play in Wales’ first ever international match, against England in London. There were no trials before the game and some players invited to play did not show up, which is why some spectators with tenuous links to Wales (including Bevan) ended up playing in an 82-0 loss. Bevan never played again for Wales, although the trophy played for between Wales and Australia is named after him. Mention of Bevan is in no way an attempt to align the organisational abilities of the embryonic WRU with Basketball Wales!
One of the latest WRU player to receive their first cap was Ioan Lloyd in November 2020, who is a former school team mate of FIBA U16 basketball internationals Rhys Mackenzie and Mason Grady!
For Basketball Wales, we have no formal lists that documents our former and current international players, men or women, senior or juniors. A challenge was set during lockdown to start listing our international players, something that I, with a work background in research and data collection and a connection to basketball in Wales, could not resist!
A little digging and research (which is a technical term for Googling!) soon showed that this could be a mammoth task.
The FIBA website, although slow and complex, has proved to be a great resource, providing roster lists dating back to 1988 for a range of teams. Various Facebook groups for Wales, England and Scotland provided a number of links, and photos, to various Home Nation tournaments and other international games.
I have restricted my list to full international fixtures only (either within formal competitions or ‘friendly’ internationals), from U16s up to seniors, for both men and women.
So far, the Basketball Wales equivalent of James Bevan is Paul Barclay, who played in a 1964 fixture at Craiglockhart, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, at a Home Nations tournament. This tournament also acted as the trials for the British Olympic team ahead of the 1964 Olympics in Rome.
Our roster for this tournament also shows that the search for height in Welsh basketball has been a long endeavour!
Our last new cap is Lucy Stradling (No. 4), who went to Moldova in 2019 with the U16 girls FIBA squad. They returned with 2-2 record, also including a fixture against Scotland, who we seem to play a lot!
My list is now over 1,100 capped players across the different teams. Some players appear only once. At the other end of the scale, Sophie Evans has represented Wales in at least ten FIBA tournaments.
Where to now?
Having picked off the low-hanging fruit, my search has become a little more difficult. I have, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, some known unknows and some unknown unknowns! For instance, I know that there were annual Home Nation tournaments for U17s in the 1970s, 80s and 90s but I am missing rosters and team lists for many of these years.
And then there are the unknown unknowns. I have large gaps for senior women fixtures and very few records for any games played before 1990. There are some good sources of information still to access. Once restrictions allow, a trip to the National Basketball Museum at Worcester University will unearth a whole range of information about previous Home Nations tournaments.
There are still some sources and contacts to use from Facebook and other social media streams, but these are mostly from opposition teams. My biggest untapped source is now the Welsh basketball community – you!
If you have, or know anyone else who has, memorabilia and information from Wales international fixtures and tournaments, I’d love to hear from you. I’m interested in two things:
Firstly, to add to my list of international players, so team lists from any international fixtures would be gratefully received.
Secondly, I want to add context to this list, to make it a bit more human. This means photos, stories, programmes, posters, videos of any sort would also be gratefully received. Also, if you are an ex-international, contact details would be really useful.
It would be great if Basketball Wales could establish contact with as many former players as possible. Plans are afoot for a Basketball Wales celebration dinner in 2022 and it would be wonderful if many of our former players could attend to meet up with former colleagues and coaches, for old teams who went to overseas tournaments to take whole tables at the dinner together.
So, if you have any material or memories from past internationals, please get in contact. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
My ultimate aim is to produce an online list of all capped players along with a website of photos, stories, memories and other memorabilia to champion our former internationals. And if the mood takes me, I might turn it into a book!
And if anyone knows of Paul Barclay, it would be great to award him the first ever Basketball Wales cap – unless anyone knows of an international games before 1964!