About Kirsten Simpson
Kirsten Simpson is an Edinburgh-based basketball player who has grown up playing in the Capital. Simpson is now thriving as a professional athlete with Scotland’s only female professional basketball team, Caledonia Pride.
Kirsten sat down with basketballscotland to share her concerns about proposed changes to the pricing structure for access to Edinburgh Leisure facilities.
One of the earliest basketball memories I have is attending basketball camps at Meadowbank Sports Centre during the school holidays. International players would be there to coach and I remember looking up to them and aspiring to play like them one day.
I went on to play for my local club, City of Edinburgh, and with the support of the club and their pathway, I was able to follow in the footsteps of those coaches I aspired to be like. As I made my way through the City of Edinburgh pathway, I had the opportunity to represent both Scotland and Great Britain.
I am currently part of Scotland’s first professional women’s team, Caledonia Pride. We have the opportunity to travel around the UK playing against some of Britain’s best players in the WBBL. With a BBC TV deal, the league is continuing to grow and we are lucky enough to play in front of the biggest crowd in the league – playing in front of so many great fans and inspiring other young girls is a really rewarding part of playing for Pride.
There is some amazing young talent coming through the Scottish basketball system but with the proposed price increase for hall hire in Edinburgh, many of these young kids who enjoy our sport will miss out on the opportunities I have had through basketball.
The increase in cost will impact many local sports clubs, not just basketball, and will be reflected in their membership costs – making access to sport even harder for families. If the proposed changes do go ahead, and access to Edinburgh Leisure facilities increases, it is almost certain that there will be a drop in participation across the City and some clubs may even be forced to close down. As someone who has got so much out of sport, this is a real concern.
A tremendous amount of work has been done in recent years to increase the number of kids participating in sport, including visiting local primary schools and running special taster sessions. All this hard work will be undone if access to this sport is put outwith their grasp.
The benefits of playing team sport are massive. Aside from the obvious health benefits, playing basketball has helped improve my confidence, taught me self-discipline and the skills required to be a team player and I feel that all of these skills are something that other young people in Edinburgh should have equal access to.
Another big part for me is the people I have had the chance to meet throughout my time in basketball. It’s an amazing experience to be able to share the same passion and commitment with a group of people as one unit but also getting to call them my friends, travelling not only the country but the world together while playing the sport we love.
What can you do to support clubs in Edinburgh?
If you would like to support our campaign, you can share our tweets about the campaign HERE. We would also encourage you to contact your local councillor or MSP to raise your concerns about the increase in price to access Edinburgh Leisure facilities.