THE Plymouth Raiders Academy at City College has seen five of its growing talent train with the club’s BBL squad this season.
Ben Peard, Ashley Hall, Merv Nlendi, Aristide Baka and Ricardo Rocha have all taken a step closer to a professional basketball career.
Another student, Nathan Marsh, is working as an assistant coach with the professional team.
“Raiders are one of the only professional teams in the UK to have such a close relationship with their Academy,” said Raiders chief executive Dave Briggs.
“While there are various opportunities for Academy players to progress to programmes in other parts of the UK and overseas, we pride ourselves in nurturing our young players and giving them a chance to progress as a player here in Plymouth.
“Both the head and assistant coaches of the BBL professional team also run the Academy and two sessions a week involve professional players, allowing us to offer basketball position-specific coaching. These relationships really help to accelerate on-court learning.
“Basing the Academy at City College means that we can take advantage of their first-rate facilities and give players vital access to the College’s strength and conditioning and sports therapy teams.”
Academy players get two dedicated shooting sessions each week, an intensive skills development programme, intra-squad games and play in a number of tournaments throughout the season. They also get comprehensive strength and conditioning coaching.
More than 20 young players aged 16-23 are able to combine top-level training with full-time study as part of the Academy. A range of BTEC, A Level (through Plymouth Studio School) and Foundation Degree options are on offer, together with work experience opportunities at games giving them a real insight into the professional world of basketball.
“Increasing the top-end age from 19 to 23 has given us the scope to increase our Higher Education roster,” said Charlie Legg, academy manager for leisure and tourism, public services and sport.
“A large number of basketball Academy players are studying for a Foundation Degree in either Sports Therapy or Strength and Conditioning.
“What makes the programme so successful is the great relationship between Plymouth Raiders and their coaching staff, and the City College Plymouth Sports Department. Also, everything is on one site so we have been able to devise a timetable that maximises the players’ time on court and in lectures.
“The Academy has an exciting calendar coming up with two European tournaments in the New Year.”
The Raiders Academy is holding a recruitment open day on Thursday, October 27, 12pm- 2pm at City College.
The event will involve an hour and a half training session, a tour of facilities, a talk about education options at the College and progression routes. For more information please visit http://www.raidersacademy.com