Sky is the Limit for Lincoln Lightning Juniors

Formed in 2018, Lincoln Lightning Junior Basketball Club have enjoyed a meteoric rise going from just eight players to more than 300 in the space of four years, offering boys and girls of all ages the opportunity to play the sport.

Head coach Scott Burchnall has been there from the start and has dedicated numerous hours to ensure the club thrives. The ex-forces man has a clear long-term plan for the club, which was born out of a need to develop new talent for Lincoln Lightning’s senior side, with aspirations of becoming an academy in the 10 years.

The club is highly active in the community, in which Lincoln Lightning are held in high regard, offering children of all school years the opportunity to play basketball in a safe environment.

Burchnall told Fen Regis Trophies: “We run community sessions for anybody who just wants to try out the game, or who isn’t interested in being competitive that is just wanting to have a bit of fun.”

Long-Term Focus

The club is not set up for the sole purpose of winning trophies right here, right now – though the club’s head coach is proud of his teams’ competitiveness when participating in tournaments. Lincoln Lightning is a club with a clear philosophy, refusing to detract from its core values, and that means recognising the opportunity to mould younger players in the image of the club and what it stands for.

“We cater for all age groups in school,” said Burchnall. “So, year one through to year 13. We’ve got age group teams at under-12s, under-14s, under-16s, and under-18s.

“We believe we should focus a lot of effort in these next couple of years in our under-12s and under-14s, to make sure they are progressing through and making sure they’re getting the right amount of exposure to competition.

“Everyone is our priority but to grow we recognise an effort needs to be made at the under-12 and under-14 age group to develop sustainably.”

More than 300 youngsters are on the books at Lincoln Lightning Junior Basketball Club.

“We Are Proud of Everything”

Though Burchnall only acquired his coaching badges upon forming Lincoln Lightning junior’s sections, he does have a history in the game. Before joining the forces, he played on and off since the age of 14 and enjoyed a spell as an assistant at Nottingham Hoods, competing in the National Basketball League (NBL) Division One – the second highest level in the country below the British Basketball League (BBL).

Upon his return from service, Burchnall began playing with Lincoln Lightning’s senior team and his affinity with the club has only grown from there. He juggles overseeing the development of the club’s junior section alongside his role coaching as part of the East Midlands Basketball Hub, as well as a day job.

Burchnall is quick to point to the importance of the club, rather than discussing his achievements, though and is proud of where the club is at after only four years – that includes the difficulties that came with a global pandemic.

“We’ve got three qualified staff in the club,” he said. “We are training up one more. We have lots of volunteers that help us out in sessions.”

Burchnall added: “We tend to be highly competitive. We don’t have a great deal of regular competition.

“When we turn up at tournaments or friendlies, we perform well against the ones that do have a lot of exposure to competition. We are proud of everything.

“In terms of a club, being able to cater for every age and stage – including girls – in such a short space of time [is our biggest achievement].

“We haven’t won any major titles or anything like that, but we’ve certainly got a good standing amongst other higher-level clubs in terms of producing talent.”

Looking Ahead

Despite only being around for four years, Lincoln Lightning already enjoys a great reputation within the local community – as well as from further afield. This is due to the club’s ability to offer sessions for players of all ages and abilities, as well as producing talented girls and boys capable of pushing on.

While the club is active on social media, it is word of mouth off the back of the club’s reputation that generates the majority of its exposure.

“We’ve grown sustainably,” the head coach said. “We’ve got a great network of people, inside and outside of the club.

“We’ve got good ties with clubs outside. We’ve got a great volunteer group. The kids know what’s expected of them – they follow our code of conduct.

“Word of mouth is the main thing. We’re receiving new enquiries two or three times a day with new enquiries…over a week that’s 20 new kids potentially on the books.”

The goal is for the club to become an academy in its own right, working with schools and colleges to deliver basketball sessions to youngsters that might not otherwise have given serious consideration to the sport. Burchnall’s vision sees Lincoln Lightning boasting girls’ and boys’ teams at every age group, with two dedicated coaches for every team.

“In 10 years,” he said. “All age groups – boys and girls – in the National League programme. I’d love the club to be an academy, working with a school or a college.

“I’d love to have lots of staff, with one head coach and one assistant for every team, have a director and all the human resources a professional club would have.”

In just four years, Lincoln Lightning Junior Basketball Club has grown beyond all comprehension off the back of hard work and dedication. Give Burchnall and the team another 10 years to continue the club’s growth and development and the sky is the limit.

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