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Caledonia Gladiators basketball team forms thanks to funding from South Lanarkshire couple

A new women’s basketball team has formed following an investment from a generous couple.

Caledonia Gladiators – merging clubs Caledonia Pride and Lady Rocks – now hopes to compete in the Women’s British Basketball League and plans are already under way for a purpose-built arena in Lanarkshire.

The club officially rebranded this month with coaches now being put in place as well as the new rosters.

The team will include a combination of professional full-time athletes and others from across the country.

Lisa Palombo, 46, co-founder of Lady Rocks and now head of operations at Caledonia Gladiators, told the Glasgow Times: “Girls over the years have had to leave the country to go play professional basketball and we have always had the aspiration that they shouldn’t need to do that.

“They should be able to play within their own club and country, at that top level.”

Caledonia Pride were the first women’s team to go pro in Scotland. Meanwhile, Lady Rocks are the country’s current champions with the U18s remaining undefeated in the Scottish Cup and league.

Lisa added: “The reason we are doing this is so that young Scottish athletes can really aspire to play at this level and beyond in Scotland.

“We’re about doing something different.”

Glaswegian Times:

The creation of the new club would not have been possible without the support of South Lanarkshire couple Alison and Steve Timoney.

Mr Timoney, 56, is the founder of Smart Metering Systems (SMS) and both he and his wife, 50, are behind the five-star Crossbasket Castle hotel near East Kilbride.

Glaswegian Times:

Speaking about her long-term friends, Lisa said: “They have never invested anything in any other sports club.

“Their emotional attachment is to Lady Rocks whom they have supported throughout our time and what instigated this movement.

“But Alison and Steve are more than just investors. They have invested in us emotionally and have supported us all the way through.

“They show up at games and awards nights, and always make sure we are resourced. The minibus we use to drive our players to games is all thanks to them.

“With Alison and Steve as the new owners, we’re able to give young girls the ambition to play basketball at the highest level. Something that I think young Scottish girls don’t particularly believe they can do – and they should, because they can.

“[Steve and Alison] aren’t just chucking money at something. They are doing what they believe is for the greater good of communities across Lanarkshire.

“As clichéd as it is, it is a true saying that you can’t be what you can’t see. And a lot of our young girls don’t get a chance to see a lot of female sports broadcasted on TV.”

Glaswegian Times:

However, Lisa and the team are not solely focused on turning the good into great.

The new team hopes to train the future generation and get as many children loving the sport as possible.

Lisa said: “We want eight and nine-year-olds to love the game so much that by the time they get to 16, 17, they’re looking at something they probably never dreamed of before.

“We hope that by doing this we really raise the bar in our club and that will also help raise the bar across every other Scottish club within the country.”

Glaswegian Times:

In conversation with Glasgow Times, part-owner Mr Timoney spoke of his own dreams for the team.

He said: “We aim to go right to the top; we want to be number one.

“I believe with the players we’ve got, and the incredible coaching staff, we will be the best in Scotland and probably even the UK.”

The couple want to provide communities with the ability to get into the sport and take young children from their first basket and ball dribble to the top.

Glaswegian Times:

Mr Timoney added: “We’re tired of athletes being labeled as male and female athletes. To us, they’re just elite athletes.

“I don’t see the difference and I never have, and that is how it will be approached in Caledonia Gladiators.

“We’re going to do ground-breaking things here, things that I don’t think the basketball world has seen yet.”

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