Junior Spotlight: Under 16 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.

Technical Director Paul Douglas assumed the position of Head Coach of our Under 16 Boys Premier side prior to the season’s start and the team have since gone on to surpass all early expectations.

As well as sitting top of their division after winning nine of their ten league games, the team are also through to the National Cup semi-finals after last weekend’s win against London Elite.

Coach Douglas is naturally thrilled with the group so far and spoke highly of their willingness to learn and develop in the early parts of the season.

“I think one of the most pleasing things for me from the season so far is how they have adjusted to different ways of doing things and applied them to game scenarios.

“The progress has been nothing short of outstanding and the team have demonstrated an ability to adapt – we have spoken about the necessity to be able to win in various different ways.

“Especially in recent weeks, the team have shown a real depth of character which is really promising and could hopefully see us go really far down the line come playoff time.

“They have really taken on what we have been working on and I think we are starting to see what this group of players is capable of.”

Meet the Team

A number of players have excelled and come into their own in the early stages of the year, with individual development contributing to the team’s early dominance across league and cup competition.

Larry Duru is one such player, standing at 6”4 and still just sixteen years of age, he has elevated his game this year and is one of a number of players to impress so far this season.

“Larry is very athletic for his size, a bit of a gentle giant in that he is still learning what he can be capable of; but he is a really strong inside presence and most of the teams are struggling to cope with him right now.

Larry has impressed with his dominant performances in the first half of the season.

“Keshawn is another who has really impressed so far, his on-ball defence has been crucial for us in locking down opposition guards and he brings a real steely mentality to the group which goes beyond his years.

“Fallilou is another who has exceptional length for his age and has really starting to find his feet on the offensive end while Ziah Francis has also come up from the Under 14 Premier team at times this year and made some important contributions.

“I think all the players have really had their moments this year and the main thing I like to see is the willingness of everyone in the group to continue to learn and want to get better every week.”

Coach Douglas was keen to stress the importance of the team ethic and culture that has been built around his group and sees the continuation of this as the key to a successful second half of the season.

“The mantra that we take into every session is one of ‘we not me’.

“The players are getting better and better every session. The early signs indicate that we have the ability to go on and have a really strong season and hopefully we can continue in the same way after the Christmas break.”

New Year Ambitions

With Manchester Magic, the side Rockets are battling with at the top of the division, visiting Nechells Wellbeing Centre on 8th January in the National Cup semi-final, there are some important weeks ahead as the team ultimately look to make the final.

Coach Douglas is more than aware of the challenges ahead, but is optimistic that the team have the mental fortitude to continue their progression as they look to build on what has been a fantastic first half of the season.

“I think there is still more to come from this group.

“They are still young and hungry to develop and we are all very excited to see where we can go in the second half of the 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