The roots of women’s basketball in Scotland goes all the way back to the formation of the Amateur Basketball Association of Scotland (ABAS) in 1947. As part of its creation, the ABAS established a women’s committee, responsible for the development of women’s basketball. Unfortunately records of early activity in the women’s game are vague. The excellent blog by Ken Johnston (found here) identifies a Women’s Cup being presented in 1948 by James Muirhead of Maryhill Basketball Club. To whom is a mystery. Reports show that in 1952, the Shooting Stars overcame King’s Park 18-17 in the first recorded final.
During the early days of women’s basketball activity was focused across the Central Belt. Edinburgh was represented by the likes of Polonia, Latter Day Saints and Shooting Stars, whilst King’s Park and Maryhill added strength from Glasgow. In 1950, Auld Reekie was formed as a breakaway from Polonia. They quickly established their superiority, winning the Scottish Women’s Cup in seven consecutive seasons.
In order to develop the game some members of Auld Reekie decided to create a new team, and thus the All Blacks were formed. As the 1950s progressed, women’s teams were established in some of the clubs that had previously been men only.
The 1950s also saw the first competitive outings for Scotland Women in European Competitions. In 1956 they travelled to Czechoslovakia for their maiden European Championships. The team showed incredible determination, resilience and creativity. And that was before they took to the court. In order to attend the competition, the team were required to fundraise to cover costs. Alongside this, they were required to undertake all the organisation necessary for a sports team to enter Eastern Europe in the 1950s. Travelling behind the Iron Curtain was a fantastic achievement. It was 1960 before they returned to international action, with a more manageable trip across the English Channel to play France in Verdun.
By the end of the Swinging Sixties, Scottish Women were trailblazing again. In 1969, the All Blacks were the first British women’s team to compete in Europe, taking on CREFF Madrid. Within the first twenty years of its existence, and in a time when women participating in sport was by no means the norm, Scottish women had managed to compete on a European stage at international and club level.
After such an inspiring start, women’s basketball in Scotland is going through another resurgence. Caledonia Pride are continually improving in the WBBL, the domestic game is stronger year-on-year, whilst the number of girls participating in the Jr.NBA suggests there is an exciting future ahead for women’s basketball in Scotland.