Rockets CEO Robert Palmer Visits Spanish Partners HLA Alicante

City of Birmingham Rockets CEO Robert Palmer is midway through a visit to Spain with our Spanish partners, LEB Gold club, HLA Alicante, to share ideas and learn from their rise in Spanish basketball.

The trip comes at an important moment for Rockets as an organisation, with a club organisational review being undertaken which will ultimately shape the forward path and long-term direction of Rockets.

Our Club has reached a point now where we are looking to move into the next phase of our journey and I was afforded the opportunity to see close up the direction that is currently being taken here in Alicante.

“I have been able to gain an insight into key decisions made relating to the club infrastructure, roster and coaching staff that will impact upon the club successes on the court.

“It’s been fascinating to observe the seeds being planted which it is hoped will bloom when the 2022/23 season take place.

“My time here has been very educational and I am looking forward to seeing how some practices can be implemented back into our plans in Birmingham for the betterment of our club, players and coaches.”

“I have been given full access to club operations on and off court, from the youth programmes through to their First Teams, gaining an in depth look at how they are structured and function.”

As well as developing a deeper understanding of the operational side of the game, Rob is also keen to ensure that we learn from the developmental differences in the way young Spanish players are taught to play the game.

The basketball culture and teaching styles are something I am keen we learn from including not just how the game is taught but how players are effectively developed.

There are areas from a coaching perspective that we can certainly learn from. We can have more impact with more contact time and appropriate teachings from a young age. This along with developing our workforce effectively will help us create a better learning environment in future.

So why Alicante? Well, the Spanish side have trodden a path that Rockets hope to take with regards to operational structure, albeit on a larger scale, that we hope we can learn from in this exciting new chapter for the club.

There is a similarity between their model and us; Alicante reformed as a foundation in recent years and ours is an organisation with charitable purposes.

“Structurally there are similarities as to how we are both set up, albeit the programme here larger than ours but there is no reason that in a city of the size of Birmingham that we shouldn’t be aspiring to do that.

“Alicante are in LEB Gold [the second tier of Spanish Basketball]. Their directors have had to build a programme from scratch and have achieved unbelievable growth to make it to where they are now so quickly. Our programme has similar aspirations and therefore it’s been so beneficial to understand the pitfalls and opportunities that may appear on our journey.”

The link between Rockets and Alicante has been in place for the past four years with the most recent collaboration being the BasketJoy Erasmus+ Inclusion Project, which promotes inclusive initiatives across clubs from Sweden (Wetterbygden Basketball) and Bulgaria (Bulgarian Special Olympics Consortium).

The partnership has already provided some incredible experiences and I am looking forward to the next phase of the opportunities it will bring to the club.

“We are looking into how we enhance the development of our players and coaches as we move into a new era for the club. Alicante have been so supportive and have shared so much information that will be of huge benefit to us when making future decisions.

“The next stage of the BasketJoy Erasmus+ Project takes place in Spain with HLA Alicante set to host a cohort of Rockets players and coaches in what is set to be another positive chapter of our continued partnership.

“The trip in July is about more than just the basketball, but also providing a fantastic social and cultural experience.

“It will give our players and coaches the opportunity to work alongside the Spanish and learn from a different style of delivery and emphasis.

“These visits are always excellent educational programmes for all involved and I am excited for those participants involved as it will be a memorable trip.”

HLA Alicante have been extremely gracious hosts with Rob having been made to feel extremely welcome during his time at their club.

“The generosity of our hosts has been beyond anything I could have imagined.

“Tony Gallego [Alicante President] has hosted me with his family for two weeks and I have been made to feel so welcome. At the weekend I move into a club apartment in the city centre -the generosity is something that I am extremely grateful for.

“Louis Arbalejo [Technical Director] is the club’s new Sporting Director with great experience and responsibility for the progress of the First Teams and the vast youth programme too.

“He has been incredibly helpful in the access and insight that he has given me. Luis has only had a few weeks in Alicante and is working around the clock to get to know the club and its personnel to get everyone ready for the 22/23 season.

“He has freely given me time to pick his brains on how he plans to take the programme forward and on his previous experiences in Zaragoza and Madrid.

“I have been so welcomed by everyone and I cannot thank everyone, from HLA Alicante and their partners Inter City Football Club, enough for having made my stay so worthwhile.”