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HCC’s basketball talent shoots to the top

Posted 23rd April 2010

Hackney Community College’s basketballers have again won the men’s and women’s National Championships at Loughborough University.

HCC’s women’s team defeated the Tyne Mets (North East regional champions) and the Men thrashed the Birmingham Mets (West Midlands regional champions). Hackney’s top basketball squads from the college have held the British Colleges National Championship men and women’s titles six times in the last seven years!

This pair of trophies is the latest in a string of achievements for the college’s basketball teams.

The under 19 Men are unbeaten so far this year, winning 3 National titles of the 7 available in the year.

Ex HCC Academy players Samuel Toluwase (Essex Pirates) and Darrell Bethune (Everton Tigers) made pro British Basketball League debuts this year and HCCA graduate Rachel James progressed to the GB U20 Women’s squad.

These successes join ex HCC player Darius Defoe who plays for Newcastle Eagles and Perry Lawson (Sheffield Sharks) at professional level of their sport.

The Basketball Academy players at HCC train at high standards alongside their main course of study. Players may be studying A Levels or BTECs. The Academy takes an American style approach – the players train hard and play hard – and if the students aren’t up to date with their college work – they don’t play on the team. This acts as great motivation for students on and off the court. They train in the professional standard basketball courts at SPACe, the sports centre attached to the college in Falkirk Street.

Here is what some of the players have to say about their experience at the academy.

Andre John-Baptiste, aged 17 said: “ This is my first year at the Academy and I have enjoyed it a lot so far. I have made a lot of new friends and feel like a part of a great big family who work together to achieve success.”

Fatumah Lwazi, aged 19 and also captain of the women’s team said: “I have improved a lot since joining the academy three years ago, in both my sporting ability and academics. It is a lot of hard work in training but it feels so good to win trophies at the end. The Academy is a great place and I will definitely miss being a part of it when I go off to university later this year.”

Many of the HCC players progress to London Metropolitan University where they continue their on-court success under the guidance of Academy Head Coach Sol Ayinla, who also coaches at the university. This creates a progression route for many students who might not have otherwise progressed to higher education.

Hackney Community College is one of just a handful in the country to offer the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (basketball). The college runs sports academies in basketball, football, athletics and cricket. If you think you’ve got what it takes – or would like to try it out, contact Karen Nixon at knixon@hackney.ac.uk