Basketball players at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) have won gold in the Association of Colleges Sport National Championships.
The team from the college’s Basketball Academy team were crowned champions after they beat Richard Huish College 14-10 at the tournament in Nottingham on 16 April.
The teams were divided into Pool A and Pool B and played against each other with the winning and runner-up teams in each pool competing for a place in the final.
CONEL had lost to Richard Huish College early on in Pool A but won against Cardiff and Vale College, Moulton College and Xaverian College in the competition.
As Pool A runners up, the team then played and beat Pool B winners Leeds City College 20-14 to reach the title decider against Richard Huish College.
CONEL was awarded 10 points towards the London region’s victory in the Wilkinson Sword Trophy, which is presented to the college region winning the most points.
Team captain Juan Nguema, 18, said: “It feels incredible to win the gold. The game was close, we won by just four points. Everyone was screaming, jumping and happy. It was amazing.
“We didn’t know what teams we would be playing but we felt confident. We all went there to win. The team’s success was down to our energy in defence, which made it easier for the offence. We didn’t play well in some of the games but as we began to trust each other more, we started to move the ball better.
“The coaches at CONEL are the best I’ve ever had and took the team to the next level. They helped our gameplay to make the right decisions, and really motivated us to believe in ourselves.”
The team also comprised Hakim Linton, Omari Pond-McKenzie, Gelsomary Camolo, Suroosh Yakin, Shaquille Thomas, Josh Genus, Ocean Brobbey, Dante Margai, Chad Neptune and Eren Cifci.
They trained every day at the college in the run up to the tournament and attended a training camp hosted by the London School of Basketball over the Easter break.
CONEL secured their place at the national tournament after winning in the regional finals at Redbridge Sports Centre in Ilford in December.
Basketball Academy coach AJ Roberts said: “Going into the tournament we knew we had a strong team and could compete, but in the past we have lost focus and concentration during games mainly on the defensive side of the court, so our focus was to get as many stops as possible.
“We won our first two games and could have got cocky but lost to the team we played in the final in group play, which may have been a blessing in disguise. I told the boys they caught us at a moment when we weren’t prepared, and they locked in, focused and took them out.
“The team put in a lot of effort and fully deserved their win. I always tell people nothing is given, everything is earned. To come away as champions is a testament of all their hard work and has given me more hunger to taste that success again. I feel incredibly proud to be their coach.”
CONEL’s Basketball Academy is located at the college’s Enfield Centre, which is also home to its Football Academy, Netball Academy, Martial Arts Academy, Athletics Academy and Esports Academy.