The History of English Basketball

basketball image by Kit Wai Chan from

Basketball is a sport played by two teams consisting of five members each. The goal is to dribble and pass the ball down a court and shoot the ball into a net. A set amount of time to play the game is used and the team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

English basketball has a long history founded by C.J. Proctor, the president of the YMCA.

Early Days

Canadian-born James Naismith invented basketball in 1891 when on staff at the YMCA. It did not take long for England to pursue this new recreational activity. By 1892, English basketball was introduced at the Birkenhead YMCA. At first, the sport was not widely played. That all changed in 1911 when organised teams began playing at the Birmingham YMCA and rules were set in motion. By 1912, teams were using the Birmingham Association Rules of Basketball throughout England.

Amateur Basketball Association of England (ABBA)

By 1936, the game had grown throughout England and the need for a governing body was apparent. The Amateur Basketball Association of England (ABBA) was formed and Herbert Naylor was appointed as the first chairman. Four regions were set up and run by a divisional secretary. As the game began to grow in popularity, many championships, age levels and tournaments began to appear locally and on the international level.

West of England Basketball Association (WEBBA)

The West of England Basketball Association (WEBBA) was formed in the 1950s and was first called the Bristol Basketball League. Although small at first with just four teams, soon the league grew in popularity. By the 1960s, the league had changed its name and was serving as the controlling body of the west of England area. The 1970s saw a great increase in numbers with three men's divisions and 30 teams.

England Basketball

England Basketball was founded in 1936 and to this day is the governing body of basketball all over England. This organisation is non-profit and consists of member clubs who elect their own board of directors. The regional structure of this organisation divides England into 10 regions and approximately 800 clubs are members. This organisation provides informational pamphlets and training materials, including refereeing and coaching. Part of their objectives is to encourage all ages, genders and abilities to play.

British Basketball League

The British Basketball League (BBL) is the professional basketball league of the United Kingdom. The league was founded in 1987 and contains 13 teams as of 2010. Regular-season play goes from September to April and each team plays the other three times. At the end of the season, the top eight teams advance to postseason play culminating in the winner of the BBL trophy.