Junior Spotlight: Under 14 Boys Premier

Summer 2022 saw several significant enhancements to the Rockets performance programme. In addition to appointing a Technical Director for the programme, the club added additional practice sessions, specialised Strength & Conditioning programmes and access to Sports Psychologists to make the Rockets junior programme one of the most comprehensive offerings in the country.

It was a period full of change across the club, with the fruits of this transition evident everywhere, and perhaps no more so than with our Under 14 Boys Premier side, who have enjoyed a positive start to the season.

The team are now led by a new coach, Afonso Tavares, who joins the Rockets as the club evolve following the disruptive COVID period.

Meet The Coach

Rockets appointed Coach Tavares to lead our Under 14 Boys Premier side after demonstrating his coaching pedigree in his native Portugal.

Upon moving to Coventry to continue his studies, he was a natural fit for the programme and has proven to be a good fit for the club.

Speaking about his journey to this point, he said: “This is my seventh year of coaching and I am now head coach of the Under 14 Boys Premier team here at Rockets.

“I am also studying for my masters in Sports Management at Coventry University and I am one of the assistant coaches of the Under 18 Boys Premier team.

“My goal is to help the club to achieve the best possible results by working hard and developing this talented group of players that I am working with.”

The Start of the Journey

It has been a positive start to the season for the team on and off the court, with progress being made each and every week as everyone works to achieve the common goal of realising the potential of this talented group of players. 

“It was quite hard in the beginning to adapt to different things – getting to know the club, the players, staff and parents was a big thing for me but I have been supported with everything and have been provided with the best possible conditions to do this job.

“After the first few weeks, it was clear to me that this team has a lot of potential to have a really great season.

“I am very happy with the team so far; they are putting in a lot of effort and I can see the improvement each and every week. I think we are on the right track and in a position to play good basketball; because, for me, it is not just about winning – it is about playing in the right way, developing the players and as a result of these things we should be entertaining to watch!

“The season didn’t start in the perfect way, the first thing I wanted to work on with the team was organisation on offence and defence; but it took a little longer than planned to implement my ideas and for the players to be comfortable with a new system and way of playing.”

Coach Tavares has set lofty ambitions for the group but realises the importance of working hard each and every session to reach their post season aims.

“The first goal for us now is to reach the playoffs and that is the ambition we take into every practice and every game.

“One of the main things that surprised me was how tall and athletic the players are at such a young age compared to the players I have worked with previously in Portugal.

“They are very strong and tall and I think the areas I can help them develop is understanding different game scenarios and how to react on the court whilst understanding that the game is 5vs5, not 1vs1 or 1vs5.

“This is natural for players of this age and I want to thank the parents for their support and for really understanding the steps we are taking as a team, what I expect from the players and what they can expect from me as the season progresses.

“I would also like to thank Robert Palmer (CEO), Kirk Dawes (Chair) Paul Douglas (Technical Director) and Coach D’Alva in particular for their support up to this point!”

The Season So Far

Despite losing their first game of the season, the team have won their last two league games and will be looking to make it three wins in a row against Leeds at Nechells tomorrow afternoon.

“We lost our first game but it was close and it was useful for the players to try and implement this new style in a game situation.

“After winning our last two games, the most recent of which being a 115-52 win against Cheshire Phoenix, we are 2-1 in the league and I think the signs are very positive!”

With the Christmas break fast approaching, the team are looking forward to working on more specialised areas as they look to continue to progress ahead of a busy post-Christmas schedule.

“The plan for us until the Christmas break is to work on offensive and defensive reads as well as maximising each individual player’s strengths and working to improve their weaknesses.

“The main goal remains the same – to remain competitive in every aspect in order for us to achieve our goals and to play a high intensity game that is exciting for people to watch.

“Everyone on the team has their role and different responsibilities and I think the players are understanding what we need from them more each week.

“The only thing I am struggling to get used to is the English weather – it is quite different to the Portuguese sunshine that I am used to but I am so happy with the team and having the opportunity to be their head coach this season!”

We will be catching up with each head coach in the coming weeks to shine a light on the fantastic work taking place across our junior performance programme.

There are a number of partnership opportunities available with our Junior Performance Programme – to express your interest and support grassroots basketball in Birmingham, please contact us at enquiries@cobrockets.co.uk