Mon 13 Mar 23
The Essex Rebels smashed an attendance record this weekend and won in front of the largest home crowd the women’s basketball league has ever seen.
Families, students and basketball fans of all ages flocked to the Essex Sport Arena on Saturday to celebrate International Women’s Day.
An incredible crowd of 1,505 packed out the University’s Colchester campus to enjoy a day of festivities for the Women’s British Basketball League clash.
The unparalleled crowd beat the Rebels' previous record by roughly 800 with spectators enjoying street food, live music and a bouncing fan zone.
The elite female side ran out against Leicester Riders and secured a double victory - as the Riders were the previous record holders having brought 1,312 to their clash against the Sevenoaks Suns earlier this month.
Director of Sport Dave Parry said: “The Essex Rebels International Women’s Day Special was a truly extraordinary occasion.
“The record-breaking crowd were treated to an intense battle between two teams of outstanding female athletes, with the result going down to the very last second of the game.
“The fans also played their part, providing a huge home advantage, and roaring the Rebels towards victory.
“This day was so much more than a basketball game, however.
“The flawless delivery of a packed entertainment show around the game, led by the best-in-the-business Stanley Kadzunge and Nate ‘Big Dog Ballin’ Syrett wowed the audience.
“Hundreds of children flocked to the court at the end of the game to meet their heroes in the Rebels team will undoubtedly have been inspired, and everyone in the Essex Sport Arena shared a ‘goosebump’ experience that will live very long in the memory.
“I want to heap praise on the staff team at Essex Sport and behind the Essex Rebels, breaking the professional league attendance record in such style is the result of everyone
going well and truly above and beyond. Bravo everyone!”
The dramatic encounter was the Rebels' first home game since the departure of long-serving head coach Tom Sadler.
Megan Haines sunk a pair of clutch free throws to edge the Rebels ahead in the final minute before the visiting Riders missed four in a row of their own to fall to a costly defeat.
Vice-Chancellor Anthony Forster said: “This is a great achievement for women’s sport, for interest in the UK in women’s basketball, and especially the quality of this Essex Rebels women’s basketball team.
“The Essex Sport Arena is home to some amazing teams, but clearly offers one of the very best game day experiences in the UK.
“I want to thank Dr Dave Parry, our Director of Sport and everyone who helped make this a special celebration of International Women’s Day. Thank you.”