Caledonian Pride yearn for security '“ and sponsors

Robyn Lewis burns with injustices but retains a cool head. Caledonia Pride, Scotland's lone entrant in the Women's British Basketball League, ended their inaugural season outside the play-offs on the cruellest of margins, on the wrong side of a tiebreaker on the final weekend when so much felt right about their results and their improvement.

Caledonia Prides Natalie Bastian drives towards the basket

“It hurt in the immediate aftermath,” the Paisley-born point guard reflects. “We were building. We had momentum. And to suddenly crash was tough.” Yet it seemed a minor trough compared with the emotional nosedive that occurred two months later when Scotland were left out in the cold when invites to the Commonwealth Games were issued.

Twelve months of labour, of proving their worth, of long-term planning, seemingly junked in one heartless swoop.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“We were all absolutely gutted,” Lewis admits. “We were all contacting each other the morning the decision came over. It was tough after putting in so much effort over the summer, training really hard, going out to Malaysia, doing everything we possibly could. It was painful to miss out. But everyone is still really passionate about what we’ve created here.”

Yet the reality is that, unlike their brethren at Glasgow Rocks – who begin their new BBL campaign against Sheffield Sharks this afternoon at the Emirates Arena – the Pride’s future is far from assured. A funding package was agreed to support both Scottish national teams ahead of the Gold Coast. While the men, with a hefty Rocks contingent, were summoned Down Under, the women will be pondering whether cash can be found to prolong their franchise beyond next summer.

It preys on the mind, Lewis concedes, that the club with the largest crowds in the WBBL might not be self-sufficient without public investment. “We do talk about it. It’s sad for us older players to know the younger ones might not have that opportunity extended.

“But we have to hope they can secure more funding. And we’ll play our part by going out into the community and show this is something that people should sponsor, that it’s something Edinburgh and Scotland should want to get behind. That’s all we can do. It is a scary thought that it might go.”

Meanwhile, new Rocks coach Tony Garbelotto will demand his reshaped team ventures into fresh terrain in a bid to conclude a 15-year wait for silverware. “Everyone was in a comfortable position,” he said. “I’m coming in demanding they push harder now.”