London have finished in eighth place in each of the last two National Championships, so will be looking to improve upon that in Nottingham.
The region takes a strong squad to this year’s National Championships, with nine different colleges represented, spanning the entire city.
With returning faces and promising newcomers, London are certainly in with a shout of a good medal haul.
Last year’s result: 8th place
Colleges representing the region in 2017: Barking and Dagenham College, Barnet and Southgate College, Havering Sixth Form College, Kingston College, Leyton Sixth Form College, NewVic, Sir George Monoux College, South Thames College, St Charles Sixth Form College
Star team: Leyton Sixth Form College’s women’s basketball team head to the National Championships determined to improve on the silver medal they won last year.
Six players from last year’s squad will be heading to Nottingham in April including Roshni Lawrence, Ange Miege, Ann-Marie Nsionu, Janet Tejuoso, Itziar Fernandez and Judith Osobaiye, and the mixture of experienced heads and new faces could make them a tough nut to crack.
Leyton’s current top scorers are Roshni Lawrence, who has a high percent from the three-point line; Judith Osobaiye driving hard to the basket and converting high from the free throw line; and Talitha Divila, who despite being new to the sport, has progressed well since September, becoming the team’s top rebounder. Janet Tejuoso is also one to keep an eye on, in terms of her tough defence, often making lots of steals and rebounds.
Naomi Bartlett, Sports Development Officer at the college said: “Our women’s team are a hardworking group that focus highly on their tough defence. I feel this will be a strong point for the team and we hope to go a long way at the National Championships. I think having competed at last year’s event, they have a good idea of the type of tough competition they will face but are very excited to be attending for a second year running and representing London.
“The team worked really hard to come away with silver last year - very unexpectedly - but they are even more pumped for this year’s Championships and are aiming to bring home the gold!”
One to watch: St Charles Sixth Form College are heading to the National Championships for the very first time, thanks to their men’s basketball team.
But despite being newcomers to the event, the team head to Nottingham hugely confident of their chances of success – with their positive mindsets being reinforced by coach Taariq Powell.
“We are honoured and excited to have qualified and to be competing against the best in the UK and we hope to win for ourselves, the college and the region,” he said.
“St Charles is a hard-working, fast-paced team who are not afraid of anyone. We play with intensity and will be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming nationals.”
Powell believes two players in particular will put the fear up their opponents, with Kayne Henry-McCalla and hard-working guard Jordan Gray his standout stars.
But the whole team are bringing a new intensity to training ahead of next month’s Championships, placing a special focus on the shorter match format they will be playing in Nottingham.
“We’re working on game situations using the running clock system and we have worked hard to learn to score in such a short amount of time,” added Powell.
“The ultimate goal is to win. But also we will build team chemistry and this will help us in the long run.”
National Championships veterans: Barnet and Southgate College’s women’s volleyball team are heading to the Championships for the second successive year.
Six of last year’s squad are returning to the 2017 event, providing vital experience in their quest for success in Nottingham, and are given further incentive by the fact that the current squad will be going their separate ways to university in the summer.
A strong bond has been formed in the team, who first started playing together in 2013. Most of the team are from different countries and, through volleyball, they learnt how to appreciate, accept and be open to new perspectives.
“We help each other out when one of us is in a difficult position; we know we need one other in order to win,” said team captain Aida Cannea Korjani. “It is like having a special feeling - a bunch of always welcoming, smiley, joyful girls who are ready to play some good volleyball!”
But as well as having fun, they are taking their preparations seriously. Not only have they set up a ‘day-to-go’ counter, the team have also committed to training four times a week as the Championships approach, as they look to develop and refine their old formation. They have also been competing in the AoC Sport Cup, where they are targeting an appearance in the final.
Korjani added: “I expect the team to count on each other; we have been building this team up from nothing and it sincerely is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I am grateful to fulfil this experience with them and I know from last year we have grown as individuals and as a whole team. So, “Play as if nobody is watching you, and LET’S GO SOUTHGATE, LET’S GO!!”
What they say: “I am so proud to have five female students represent the region of London at the 2017 AoC Sport National Championships. I have seen some of these girls begin at recreational level and train regularly in order to win their respective regional tournaments. They are fantastic role models for other females across the college, encouraging others to get into sport and be more active whilst at Kingston College. I hope the girls enjoy every aspect of the National Championships where they will experience a celebration of competitive college sport and gain incredible life-long memories.”
Johanna Shaw – Kingston College, College Sports Maker