On 30 July the Prudential RideLondon event takes place through the streets of London and Surrey. As long-time Greenhouse Sports supporters, Prudential has invited a number of young people from our programmes to be part of their team of community riders for the iconic closed-road cycle. The community riders will follow a 46 mile route which was created in 2016 specifically for younger or newer cyclists.
Meet community rider Xazal, currently attending sixth form at Clapton Girls’ Academy in Hackney. Having attended the basketball programme at her school since age 11, Xazal, pictured bottom right with The Greenhouse Pioneers girls’ team, is now a volunteer coach and still enjoys participating in the Greenhouse Sports Pioneers community team that competes in the National Basketball League.
“I’ve never done anything like this before. I know if I complete the ride, I can do anything.”
Inspired by her Coach Fe, who completed the 100 mile route in 2016, Xazal has signed up as a Prudential community rider-although she is sticking to the 46 mile ride for now! Looking forward to the challenge, she hopes to complete the ride in under 4 hours by following the training plan put together for her by Coach Fe. Some of this training involves the group of community riders cycling out of their native Hackney and into Essex, led by Fe and the other legacy riders.
From badly behaved to Assistant Coach…
“I used to be naughty. I would be loud in class and rude to my teachers. But then I realised that if I was in trouble, then I couldn’t play basketball.”
Xazal was in Year 7 when she got her first taste of basketball during an interform at her school, Clapton Girls’ Academy. Soon after, she began attending the Greenhouse Sports basketball programme during her lunch break and after school, run by coach Fionnuala Duhaney-Keown who is affectionately known as Coach Fe. Coach Fe helped Xazal to nurture her passion for the sport, inviting her to attend basketball camps over half term and play in school championships. In turn, basketball motivated her to make positive changes at school, encouraged by Coach Fe who told her to “always put school work before basketball.”
By the time she was in Year 8, Xazal had begun playing with Greenhouse Sports’ community club, the London Greenhouse Pioneers and was the youngest player on her team. Being part of this team gave Xazal the opportunity to travel across England to play basketball against some of the best junior teams in the country.
It was during feedback sessions on the bus ride home from these games that Coach Fe first began to recognise Xazal’s natural capacity for analysis: “She has the coach’s eye- something that took me years to develop.” Coach Fe also praises her exceptionally strong communication skills- skills that stem from acting as the main translator between her parents and the world from a young age.
Xazal was unable to train in years 10 and 11 due to upcoming exams, but she would still go to training just to watch for a while. Inspired by observing Coach Fe at work, she realised that she wanted to dedicate herself to coaching. In 2015, she attended the Greenhouse Sports basketball Leadership Academy where she obtained her Level 1 Basketball coaching qualification. Out of all the graduates from the Leadership Academy, Xazal completed the most voluntary hours- totalling over 150 hours.
“I love coaching because I get to see people grow.”
Now in her first year of sixth form, Xazal works closely with Coach Fe as a volunteer coach, which involves nine hours of coaching on top of her full time studies. In the future, she aspires to study coaching at university.