Community outreach is everything for the Manchester Giants – it’s hard to talk to any of the players and head coach Jeff Jones for five minutes without them bringing up the subject.
And when they do their eyes light up, and their movements become more animated. Make no mistake, for everyone at this special club it’s a privilege rather than a chore.
Leading up to the festive season they’ve been involved in a project with storage firm Flexispace to encourage members of the public to donate presents for Manchester’s disadvantaged children.
Tomorrow they’ll be at the Flexispace unit on Ashton Old Road just off Ancoats to do a live basketball demonstration and shoot some hoops with fans, encouraging all those who attend to bring a present with them for a needy child.
And in return the Giants will be giving out some discounted ticket vouchers to fans for forthcoming basketball games.
“Events like these are so, so important,” said team captain Dave Watts.
“Perhaps other clubs don’t do things like this but we do. And each and every one of our guys love it.
“We’re all here because we love this city – most of the guys are from around here. Everyone here wants to win basketball games for Manchester and also give something back. This city has been so good to us.
“We get so wrapped up in basketball sometimes but we also remember there are some people who don’t have support at home, or a loving family – things we all take for granted.”
They may be sportsmen, Watts said, but the Giants aren’t typical professional athletes, and it’s a point of pride for them.
Whereas footballers are distant and mysterious figures, these basketball players are incredibly accessible. After each home game they hang around the Trafford Sportsdome – sometimes for three or four hours after the final buzzer – signing jerseys and posing for photographs.
So even though they have a game in Worcester tonight – from which they’ll return home after 1am – they’ll be out in force tomorrow in Ancoats because it’s just what they do.
Main image courtesy of Jack Hinds, with thanks.