Culliford leaves his position within the club after 15 years at the helm, having initially formed the Dragons in the summer of 2001, in response to the demand from a group of year 11 ‘ballers’ from Beckfoot School, near Bingley, who wanted to play competitive Basketball.
Following an initial period of focus on youth development, the Dragons first entered the Senior National leagues, under Culliford’s direction, in 2005, finishing fifth in Division 3 (north) in their first season, just missing out on a playoff position.
However, it has been no secret that the club has struggled to maintain that momentum over the subsequent period and last season saw the Dragons fighting against relegation for the majority of the year, finishing the campaign just above the drop zone.
In severing all involvement with the running of the Basketball club, Culliford recognised that, “It is now time to hand over the reins to a new leadership of the club. I pay tribute to the many volunteer coaches, parents, players and basketball supporters who have been involved with the Dragons over the last fifteen years and helped to grow and establish the club to where it is today. I wish the club good fortune for the seasons ahead and I sincerely hope that they can withstand the cold winds of austerity blowing the way of all sports clubs. It has been an honour and a privilege to be a part of the Dragons club and I hope that the new club leadership can take them to the next level.”
The new management team is headed by incoming Chairwoman, Deborah Krajniewski and Club Secretary, Steve Valentine, who have also established a strong team of Operational Directors to support them.
Krajniewski acknowledged that, “the club is the success it is today because of the relentless, dedicated hard work of Stuart (Culliford) to help Bradford Dragons become a national basketball force.” On her own appointment she stated, “I feel a sense of privilege being the first female Chair of one of the top men’s Division 1 NBL clubs in the country and I hope that in the near future we will be able to bring some national silverware back to Bradford.” Recognising the work that her predecessor had put into establishing a strong youth setup within the club, she continued, “It is our intention to pursue the expansion of our junior programme, as we look for this to become the natural progression route for Bradford’s talented youth to continue to reach international standard. With this in mind we are planning for an expansion of our coaching programmes into Bradford schools and the local community, as we aim to go from strength to strength. We want to see Bradford Dragons become a household name across Bradford and throughout Yorkshire.”
The Dragons are currently in the process of finalising their roster for the 2016-17 season and expect to make player announcements over the course of the next few weeks.
For further information on the junior coaching programmes, or any other aspect of Bradford Dragons, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.