CONEL’s Basketball and Netball Academies net place at Association of Colleges National Championships

Young sports stars at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) are celebrating after qualifying for the Association of Colleges Sport National Championships.

Teams from the college’s Basketball Academy and Netball Academy will represent the capital after winning in the regional finals at Redbridge Sports Centre in Ilford on 8 December.

The basketball team won all their opening round matches to reach the knockout stages and beat Newham College in the final, while the netball team beat all teams in their competition.

Both teams are now preparing for the national tournament at the University of Nottingham in April under the training and guidance of their coaches AJ Roberts and Yamini Bist.

CONEL’s Basketball Academy and Netball Academy, along with the Football Academy, Martial Arts Academy, Athletics Academy and Esports Academy are based at the college’s Enfield Centre.

The academies are open to all students aged 16-18 at the college and include professional coaching, personal fitness, physiotherapy, nutrition and tactical analysis.

Jonathan Silman, Head of School for Sport, Public Services and KS4, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for our Basketball and Netball Academies. The teams and their coaches have worked exceptionally hard and shown great commitment to develop and improve their skills and performance, which has resulted in them qualifying for the National Championships.

“Our Sports Academies at CONEL continue to go from strength to strength and I am hugely proud that the college will be representing London. The basketball and netball teams and their coaches should be proud of what they have accomplished in their sports, especially the team from the Netball Academy, which only started up at the college recently.

“The National Finals will be an even bigger challenge, but if they continue to apply themselves and show the same dedication then they will give themselves every chance of success.”

The AoC Sport National Championships has been running for more than 40 years and is one of the UK’s largest student sporting events with nearly 1,800 students taking part each year.

Ten regional tournaments are held across England and Wales during the autumn term with the top teams in 13 sports qualifying for the National Championships.

Students compete in boccia, badminton, basketball, cross-country running, football, disability football, hockey, indoor cricket, netball, rugby, table tennis, tennis and volleyball.

CONEL’s sports facilities include a floodlit 3G football pitch, grass pitches, sports centre with sports hall, fully equipped gym and changing rooms, which are also available for hire.

Find out more about CONEL’s Sports Academies here.

Former CANDI Sports Science student scores career goal as Turkey football coach

A football coach for the Turkey national team has told how studying at City and Islington College (CANDI) helped kick off his career.

Emre Aydemir, 36, joined the Turkish Football Federation in 2020 as an assistant coach and educator where he has worked under head coach Stefan Kuntz and his predecessor Şenol Güneş.

He previously worked as an assistant coach and educator for Arsenal in the Community, the club’s community programme for young people, after completing an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Sports Science at CANDI in 2013.

Emre developed his coaching skills at the Gunners, studying for a Foundation Degree in Football Coaching while at the club and gaining his UEFA B licence with the English FA.

He later progressed to BSc (Hons) in Sport Psychology and Coaching and graduated in 2016, and more recently he attained his UEFA A licence with the Scottish FA.

Emre, who grew up in Istanbul, played professional football for Küçükçekmece before coming to England in 2010 where he played and coached at non-league White Hart Rapids in Haringey.

“I could not continue with my playing career as a professional footballer due to a foot injury,” said Emre, who has since moved back to Turkey.

“I ended my football career as top scorer in a league in north London I played in and decided to focus on my education. I’d always had passion for football, and as I had played football I thought I could continue as a coach.”

Emre is a fan of Turkish side Fenerbahçe but adopted Arsenal as his favourite team in England while he was living in London and attending CANDI.

He names José Mourinho, who has managed two of the Gunners’ biggest rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea and is now at Roma, among the coaches he admires.

“I like Mourinho because he has been successful with teams at different levels. He is also a very disciplined coach with very good communication skills with the players,” said Emre.

“He is someone who constantly applies new strategies and different models and does not give up on himself.”

When asked what skills and attributes are needed to be a good football coach, Emre listed leadership, management, communication, observation, passion, positiviity, patience, imagination, self-motivation and a desire to do better to reach your potential.

“Coaching keeps me focused all the time. It’s important to me to establish good relations with the players and understand them and have good organisation skills and pay attention to detail,” he said.

Emre recalled how he was able to implement what he had learnt at CANDI into his university studies and this, along with his training at Arsenal and the FA, gave him the skills he needed for his coaching career.

He has particularly fond memories of CANDI where he started his journey and often mentions the college when asked about his career or when speaking at conferences worldwide.

“When I first started CANDI, I had a lack of self-confidence and thought I wouldn’t be successful,” said Emre.

“My teachers supported and pushed me to do my best. They were so helpful and believed in me. The course gave me better insight into sports science, theoretically and scientifically, which I was able to implement into my university studies.

“CANDI taught me to dream, gave me direction and encouraged me to set achievable goals. It is still a very special place for me.”

CANDI offers Sports Science courses from Level 2-3, which cover anatomy, health and safety, sports psychology, nutrition, fitness and practical sport.

Find out more and apply here.

Former WestKing Student Shortlisted for Women’s Playwriting Award

A former Westminster Kingsway College student’s powerful drama about a young gay, black woman at her wits’ end has been shortlisted for an award.

Babirye Bulkilwa, 28, who is also an actor, poet and model, has been named among the finalists in The Women’s Prize for Playwriting for their short play, …blackbird hour.

The competition celebrates and supports women playwrights by discovering and promoting the best new work from writers at all levels of experience.

babirye, who uses they, has described their play as “a call to arms to loving oneself when love has evaporated from the body” and said it was inspired by events in their own life.

They said: “It’s about a young, gay, black woman and her safe space, which is her bedroom, and her unanswered questions about love and life. I enjoy storytelling. I’ve always been drawn to creating stories and pictures. Writing allows me to do that, while performing is unlike any type of happiness I have ever felt.”

babirye was pleased to be among the finalists in the competition but feels more needs to be done to promote black and gay artists, writers and performers.

“Without competitions like this, nobody with big pockets would pay my work any attention, but I am proud of myself. I had an idea and I finished it,” babirye said.

…blackbird hour was previously shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting, run in partnership with the Royal Exchange Theatre.

babirye recently appeared on stage in …cake, a prequel to Blackbird Hour, at Theatre Peckham.

Listen to …blackbird hour on the Fizzy Sherbert podast, performed by babirye and Michael Balogun, and directed by Anna Girvan (please note: the piece contains strong language).

babirye studied our Performing Arts diploma from 2008 to 2010. “I remember going to see lots of plays, and really analysing theatrical language and technique. My teachers really supported me and celebrated my talent,” they said.

“The lessons were intense, but always provocative. I learnt so much.”

Last year babirye performed opposite Hollywood star Cate Blanchett in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other at the National Theatre. Her film and TV credits include the BBC series’ Casualty and Our Girl.

babirye co-founded the Sistren podcast to give a voice for the black lesbian community and was named among 10 female creatives in The Guardian newspaper in 2018. babirye is one half of a comedy duo Ackee & Saltfish, seen on BBC Three, and has also modelled for brands including Dr Martens, Adidas, Macy’s and Burberry.

Queen's Award for Enterprise