De Montfort University (DMU) has signed a partnership with current national basketball champions Leicester Riders to further boost the sporting experiences available to students.
DMU's Esther Dudley, Riders MD Russell Levenston and coach Rob Paternostro sign
Thanks to the agreement, DMU Pitbulls – the student women’s basketball team – will receive specialist coaching from Leicester Riders and play their home games in the impressive 2,500-seat Leicester Sports Arena.
There will also be specialised coaching clinics for both the men’s and women’s DMU teams, concentrating on the build-up to the annual Varsity matches against the University of Leicester later this month.
The Leicester Riders Foundation charity will work on community initiatives with #DMUlocal, the university’s project designed to make a significant contribution to the social and economic development of Leicester, and the basketball club will also offer prestigious graduate internships for DMU alumni.
DMU students and staff will also be able to take advantage of special ticket offers to Riders’ games so they can cheer on the UK table toppers as they search for their second national title in a row.
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Leicester Riders played their games at DMU’s former John Sandford sports centre – now The Venue@DMU - from 2008 to 2013. They then moved to Loughborough and finally came home to a new £6 million arena last year.
Leicester Riders Managing Director Russell Levenston said: “It is great to form an education and sport partnership with DMU, especially now that we are back in the city centre. It’s a great opportunity for students to play in a professional arena and have access to our coaches and we hope lots of students are inspired to get involved in the sport when they come to watch our games.”
Proud DMU pitbulls players Emilie and Zahrah
Rob Paternostro, multiple trophy-winning head coach of Leicester Riders, said: “First off, it is a real honour to partner with DMU. The university has a special place in my heart as the first game I ever coached professionally, with Leicester Riders, was at DMU and I have many happy memories there.
“Our support is constantly growing and we are pleased to be able to offer the backing to DMU students who want to make their way in the sport.”
DMU Pitbulls came along to their home at Leicester Sports Arena to witness the signing agreement and were delighted to be officially made part of the Leicester Riders family. They have already received coaching from Riders staff and are noticing a marked improvement in their play.
Emilie Fairnington, 20, a third year Forensic Science student who plays Guard, said: “Until this season, we definitely weren't doing as well as we are now. I think that's partly down to the fact we have a more positive team spirit now thanks to the Riders. We work better as a team than we ever have before.
“The facilities at this arena are outstanding and it's so crazy for me to watch Riders play and then come and train and play on the same court. My favourite Riders player is definitely Conner Washington.”
Zahrah Patel, 21, a second year Mechanical Engineering student who plays Point Guard, added:
"We are definitely ready for varsity, even though we still have a few training sessions left before our first big game on Saturday 18 March. Surprisingly, I actually don't feel that nervous at all. I feel confident in our abilities thanks to the coaching and I think we’ll do well.”
Marc Hector, DMU’s Sports Projects Officer, helped put together the partnership. He said: “We are delighted to now be named as one of the team’s official partners.
“What Leicester Riders are offering our students is fantastic. It means our students can enjoy another incredible sporting experience that most other institutions in the UK would struggle to match. We want to wish Riders and our teams all the best as they head towards the business end of the season.”
DMU now has partnerships with Leicester City, Leicester Tigers and Leicester Riders – offering a second-to-none sporting experience for its students.
Leicester Riders are national champions in British club basketball, and have highly successful underage and student programmes. They are also the oldest professional basketball team in the UK, celebrating their 50th birthday next month.
Posted on Friday 17th March 2017