In this series of articles, we take a look at some of the players who have come through the setup here at Rockets. In this latest instalment, we focus on Men’s First Team player, Faaris Mughal.
Faaris has been a regular feature for our Men’s First Team this season after making the step up from our under-18 programme in the 2021 offseason.
After discovering the sport in his formative years, Faaris first joined up with the Rockets aged 12, a move which allowed him to develop what had up until that point been a hobby with coaching and competitive play.
“When I was six my dad bought me a basketball net for my birthday since he used to play when he was younger,” he explained.
“I would just shoot every day all day on it but still never took it seriously – it was more of just a hobby to me at that time and something I enjoyed.
“When I was 12, we were told about COB I came down to one of the development sessions and I have been coming to Nechells like it’s my second home ever since! I played in u13s YBL for my first season but basketball was still just a hobby at this point and would be something I would just do for fun.
“I received massive support my whole way through from age 12 up until now. Playing National League from u14s I have had many different coaches who have helped me excel and learnt something different from each one as I climbed the junior basketball ladder“.
Faaris’ family have embraced the Rockets’ culture in the years since, travelling the country to support him, whilst his uncle Tariq is now our resident DJ and game announcer at our home fixtures.
“My mum and dad take me everywhere to play basketball whether it’s a game, a training session, park meet up, or a scrimmage. They would drive me anywhere and everywhere to play basketball and make sure I get every opportunity to play.
“They also know the best way to improve is to play and work on my game so they gave me every opportunity to do so and support me wherever I play”.
Since joining up with our men’s side last summer, Faaris has once again upped his level under the stewardship of Coach Paul Douglas.
A 25-point game against Nottingham Trent University Hoods back in October has been his standout performance to date, whilst his 12 points against Bristol Hurricanes a month later helped us secure our biggest margin of victory for the season so far.
“The transition from junior basketball to first-team has been very different in my opinion since everything is done at a much faster rate.
“Everything is more efficient and everyone is stronger, but I feel I have adjusted quite well and perform quite well when in games and training sessions.
“The biggest thing I have taken away from playing first-team is that I can’t afford to switch off for a second throughout a game.
“My concentration level needs to always be at 100% because if lose concentration for a split second the other team will definitely realise and make me pay for any slight mistake”.
Despite the challenges that come with this step up in intensity, Faaris acknowledges the progression in his game and the benefits of practical exposure to more experienced players as one of the youngest players in the league.
“I feel I have improved massively,” he admitted.
“From joining the first team as I feel my game is evolving each day and I’m getting more aware of when to be aggressive and when I might need to slow the game down.
“When I play in college games against people my age, I feel the difference between men’s and junior basketball, which also shows the improvements from joining the first team rather than playing with people my own age“.
As well as competing against experienced players, the Rockets roster allows him to train with a host of seasoned veterans, some of whom boast the experience of playing at the highest level in the UK and abroad.
“I have learnt so much from all the veterans in our team as every single training session they are quick to tell me where I am going wrong and how I need to fix things in my game – even the smallest things sometimes that make the biggest difference.
“In games, they are quick to get onto me and get the best out of me and I just take everything I hear from them on board as they have been places where I am trying to go so, naturally, they have knowledge which can be useful to me.
“Any little bit of advice I can get I try and take full advantage of and they are always willing to teach me or help me out when I have a question about something specific which has been great”.
Despite a slight dip in form heading into the winter break, our first-team have demonstrated an ability to grind out results and be competitive in our first season at this level.
Faaris has been an important part of the team this season, contributing on a consistent basis, and is keen to look to head into the second half of the campaign with the right mindset.
“I feel our team is very talented in many different areas and is quite different to other teams.
“When we are all clicking and on the same page in a game, it is very hard for the other teams to get control of the game and I feel like when we play the way we know we can, we are capable of going far this season.
“There are not many teams that will be able to beat us when we are all playing that way”.
On a personal note, the eighteen-year-old is eager to continue to learn and develop his game in the months to come, making the most out of his first exposure to men’s basketball.
“My personal ambitions for the rest of the season are to win more games – I am willing to do what I have to do to help the team win to get to the places I know we are capable of”.