The Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL) is delighted to announce that Essex Rebels are joining as a new franchise for the 2018-19 campaign.

Supported by the University of Essex, the team will play at the brand new £12 million Essex Sport Arena at the Colchester Campus. Opened earlier this year, the Arena features seating for 1,655 spectators, a court-side sports therapy clinic and sports science laboratory, and state of the art performance analysis equipment.

Essex Rebels, formerly known as Essex Blades, entered the Basketball England National League for the 2015-16 season, winning the National Women’s Cup in their first year. They were also this season’s winners of NBL Division 1, finishing with 20 victories and 1 defeat – as well as booking another National Cup Final appearance, along with the Play-Off Final.

The team have also gained back to back promotions in BUCS and were this season’s BUCS Premier South winners with a 10-0 record in their first season at that level.

Essex Rebels Head Coach, Mark Lloyd, is looking forward to the challenge of moving into the WBBL after success for the team in the NBL and BUCS competitions over the past four seasons.

He said: “We have worked so hard to reach this point. It’s a true reflection of the players’ commitment to getting better each day: they are on the practice floor with the realisation that this will create more and more opportunities to be successful.

“The programme is built around the student-athlete and their ability to grow as a scholar, an athlete, and ultimately as a basketball player. This new opportunity will only enhance their overall experience – I’m delighted for the players.”

Dave Parry, who is Director of Sport at the University of Essex, commented: “We set out four years ago to provide an athlete-centred programme, focussed on helping develop players during their time at University.