Ziggy leading the way for Basketball “Content” in Northern Ireland

Not many are more are as involved in the world of basketball in Northern Ireland other than Lithuanian born Zygimantas Radzevicius, also known as Ziggy by the basketball community.

Ziggy is often either the man behind the camera delivering some of the best basketball photographs with in BNI or coaching for his beloved BC Wolves. His love for basketball has helped inspire many into the game through the years. He has become a crucial part of the ecosystem of basketball with in Northern Ireland serving as a coach to BC Wolves and as a committee member to the BNI competitions committee.

We were able to chat to Ziggy about his basketball story…

“My name is Zygimantas, I would go short for Ziggy. I was born in Lithuania and raised in a basketball-loving family, with both my mother and father being huge fans of basketball. My brother played basketball from a young age bringing me everywhere, where he goes. I joined one of the basketball teams in Lithuania when I was 8 years old and played for that team for a year. When I was not in training, I was playing basketball outside all the time, as there were four basketball courts near where I lived.

Living in Northern Ireland was a totally different basketball atmosphere. Here, everyone that I knew at that time played Gaelic and football, and when I wanted to go play outside in a park, there weren’t any available courts. As time went on, I found a club that I could join and automatically found new basketball buddies who loved basketball as much as I did.

One of the friends told me at some point that there was a basketball court nearby, and ever since then, after school, we played there. When we were 14 or 15, we started organizing 3×3 tournaments in the park between ourselves. All the boys that played a little bit of basketball participated in the tournaments because everyone loved to compete.

When I was 18, I joined BC Wolves club. Like now, back then, BC Wolves impressed everyone with their presentation, how the club was run, the passion for basketball, and the atmosphere that the club itself created. The only difference was that there was only one youth team. I met some amazing people, real passionate, real hardworking guys within the club, one of them was Rolandas. Rolandas was something that I feel right now you would need in every club, every organization. He proved to me that working hard and making things happen can actually grow basketball in Northern Ireland. When I turned 22, I started doing more and more for the club. Wolves started running underage groups, and I became part of it. Getting into coaching at that age was something different for me, as showing something that you know and understand isn’t always easy. At the same time, we had meetings with the staff of Wolves, and I volunteered to help out with the social media for the club, as same with basketball, ever since I was young, I loved taking pictures, making cool content, and loved the effect of marketing itself.

In 2022, Rolandas and I thought about the idea of creating a 3×3 Basketball community in Northern Ireland. As there were only a couple of tournaments per year of 3×3 basketball, we thought of the idea of creating a whole community-based tournament. We managed to organize a lot of 3×3 basketball tournaments, with over 9 different nationalities participating in them, with more than +200 people involved in the tournaments themselves. Organizing events, fundraisers, participating in community events was part of BC Wolves. We proved that being involved in a basketball club is not only playing in the team but being involved in activities, volunteering, making friends and connections and having fun in general.

In December 2022, I met the Vice-chairman of BNI, Marc Mullholand, for the first time. Marc knew how much we love basketball and what we loved to do, so he invited us to be part of Basketball Classic Series and be the photographer for the event in Dublin.

2023 was the biggest year for me in terms of getting involved in basketball. In April 2023, I had a chance to meet with the Secretary of the Basketball Federation of Lithuania and the professional coach Tomas Kersis. They visited Northern Ireland to check out how clubs are run in Northern Ireland, how they can help and improve the youth grow within basketball. After they visited us, we had an invitation to Lithuania to visit their country and see professional basketball from the other side. It motivated me even more and just proved further that to grow basketball, wherever you are, you have to start from the youth and organizing.

In the summer of 2023, we ran basketball academies and 3×3 tournaments for youth, with a focus on training their individual skills and helping them reach their goals. Also, in the 2023-2024 season, I received an invitation from Sarah (Secretary of BNI) to become part of the competitions committee. Without a doubt, I agreed with the potential of learning from the professionals and seeing basketball competition organising from the inside. A huge thank you to BNI for the opportunity. Ever since I got involved in volunteering for the Wolves, I got more and more opportunities to help BNI as well, which is rewarding. Working with people in the organisation gives me a better understanding of basketball.

I am more than happy to help out the BNI community if it helps to grow basketball in Northern Ireland! I also want to encourage more people to start volunteering. If you think that you don’t have anything to give to the BNI community – you are wrong. As everything is possible to learn, and having more people helping out is better. If we all work together, share our ideas and work hard on them, we can succeed.”

From everyone at BNI we would like to thank Ziggy for the tireless hours he has invested into basketball with in Northern Ireland from a player, to a coach and now on committees and behind cameras. We appreciate everything you do for the sport we love.

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