Meet the Board members

Here’s your opportunity to get to know our volunteer Board member a little bit better.

Meet the newest Basketball Wales Board member, our Equality, diversity and inclusion director…

Hi! my name is Azeb Smalley. I was born in Ethiopia, adopted by British parents at six months, lived there for 11 years followed by seven years in Kenya. Attending international schools my whole life has given me that unique edge of cultural awareness, and the ability to relate and communicate with many people.

I came to Cardiff in 2009 where I began my studies at Cardiff Metropolitan University where I enrolled in Sport Management as my undergraduate degree followed by a Masters in Sports Coaching.

I have been so fortunate to have played at a variety of levels, BUCS, NBL, WBBL and now Wales. Over the last 5 years I have really developed an interest in coaching and how you can impact young people. That coupled with my previous job at StreetGames really opened my eyes to the power sport has on tackling so many issues.

Coaching experience

  • U16 and U18 National League.
  • U16, U19, U23, and Senior Welsh programmes.
  • Learning Disability for young people U8 and U10.
  • U.K. Coaching/Basketball England Leadership and Performance programme

My thoughts on this new position on the board

I am really excited for this opportunity Basketball Wales has given me. One of the most important things I have learned as a player and a coach is the relationships you build with people. For me this role gives me a chance to learn from others and help create a stronger basketball community in Wales and to help give people a voice. Basketball is a sport that is played by many from all backgrounds. We must continue to grow the game and make it accessible to all, whether playing, coaching, officiating or volunteering.

Sport is such a powerful tool and used in the right way it can break down boundaries and create a brighter future for everyone.

First and foremost we will be looking to put a committee together from a range of backgrounds and expertise to support me in this role. It’s important we have a group of individuals who can help guide Basketball Wales and promote equality, diversity and inclusion.

Please get in touch with Azeb if you have any questions or if you would like to be involved with the new Equality, diversity an inclusion committee

Jonathan Kurtz-Shefford – Legal Director

A native of New York City and ardent Knicks fan, Jonathan is also a solicitor and Peter Lynn and Partners. His love of the basketball game and experience within the legal sector is a highly valuable asset to Basketball Wales and its vision of developing the sport within Wales.  
In his spare time Jonathan enjoys spending time with family and friends. Jonathan is keen sportsman, he enjoys playing golf and basketball. 

Why I love basketball?

As far as sports goes, it is has to be my favourite, I know I love the game but have never been asked why! Basketball does not discriminate, anyone can play, all you need is a ball and a hoop. You can play as a team or simply on your own. The game provides for many transferable skills, whether that is to other sports or life even. The team dynamic and element is addictive, each player has their role to play at all times, it is fast paced and at all times your engaged within the game. It’s the perfect all-rounder! 

Vision for Basketball in Wales  

I would love to see the game continue to grow from strength to strength from the grass roots up. Engagement and up-take by schools to promote and teach Basketball is key. This is over and above the traditional main sports played within schools that being the Rugby, Netball and Football etc. By no means do I want to see these sports replaced by Basketball, I would like them to have equal standing within the rotation of sports taught and encouraged. Nearly every school will have a gymnasium and/or an outdoor multi use games area that can facilitate, I would love to see them being used to their full potential! Then, naturally, larger junior and senior leagues will follow over-time to feed into our National Programme. 

Why be a director and volunteer my time and expertise? 

I think the answer will be the same for each and every board member, volunteer, coach, player, parent so on and so forth. We all just want to see such a great sport continue to grow and develop within Wales. Being a grass root sport, funding is limited, therefore without volunteers, Basketball in Wales would not be where it is today and continue to go from strength to strength.  

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