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Never AFRAid

Read the latest blog entry from United’s U16 captain, Afrasyab Khalil:  

10th July 2015: More than just a sport

‘Experience is an important factor in basketball as it helps us a lot to learn from our mistakes and also build confidence’, and that’s why our first trip abroad has helped us a lot. I’m Afrasyab Khalil, born in 1999, captain of u16s London united. On the 2nd of July we (LU U16) went to Poland to take part in an international tournament which had teams from Germany, Poland and Belguim representing their countries. After playing abroad against European teams, I must say they’re good and it was great experience for the team. There are a lot of differences between us and European basketball teams

London United U16 in Poland July 2015The differences I noticed as a player between UK and European basketball was that their fundamentals are on point and this is because of practice and also because they start playing basketball at a younger age than UK ballers so repetition of the fundaments just sets them apart. On our 2nd day when all the teams went on the parade we saw 4 year old’s playing basketball outdoor which just shows us that they develop the love for the game at a young age and then it keeps growing as they grow. Another major difference was the ball movement, the team work of the European teams is better than that in the UK.

This trip was a great way to spend more time with the team off the court as it would help us to get even more comfortable with each other which obviously helps us on the court. The whole experience for me and the team off the court was exciting as we had a lot of activities planned for us including the parade, swimming, closing ceremony, visiting a local church and tournament disco. All these activities helped us a lot to understand the lifestyle of the ballers abroad and how the European countries are and how big of a sport basketball is for them.

During the trip the  team was great at managing their time well, knowing when to have fun off the court and when to be serious on the court.  It was great as my team enjoyed a lot off the court but with that we knew that when we are on the court it’s not about fun, it’s about taking the game serious and playing our best and trying our best to win.

Personal lessons that I’ve learnt after this trip is mainly that how to be a better leader and controlling my team on the court as a leader and a point guard and also that ball movement and teamwork and especially defence are the keys to win almost every ball game

Goals for future

My personal goals and team goals for the team is to keep going on trips and tournaments like this so we can build an even better bond off the court because of which we will be even more comfortable on the court. As captain my target is to make my team get more experienced by playing European teams and becoming better at playing team basketball because surely after this tournament I can say one thing with confidence about the Polish and German teams that their teamwork is great and appreciable. They know how to move the ball and look for the easiest shot available on each and every possession of the ball game. One main goal for me personally as a captain of this team is to return to Poland to the 14th international basketball tournament Gniezno 2016 and be the best team there and win the whole tournament.

‘Basketball is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle’ surely is true.

10th April 2015: Playoff preparation

After our first round playoff victory against Eastside Eagles, we start to prepare for our next playoff game against Peckham Pride in the 2nd round. I’m Afrasyab Khalil captain of u16s London United basketball team.  11th April game day. Peckham is a great team with a lot of achievements in the past.  2 weeks to prepare for the game. Me and the team get in the gym and train, we’ve been working hard at every training and coaches been helping us greatly because we don’t want to stop this London united u16s run just now. I want to go further onto next round and the hopefully final fours.

Two days left for the game, we looking to go to Peckham and get the W and move onto the next round of playoffs. These two weeks of preparation has been great with some good training and now it’s the time we go to Peckham and get the W to show our hard work and determination to win.

29th March 2015: “It’s not about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hitAfrasyab Khalil and keep moving forward” That’s how the season and the playoff game have been for me. I’m Afrasyab Khalil, 16 years old, born in 1999 and captain of the U16s London United team. This journey of mine started back in the summer, putting in hard work at the park or during trainings at The Harefield Academy.Working hard before the season the team had good preparation for our season to start.

October 18th 2014 was finally the D-day for us as Coach Daniel says. Before my first game, there was an U18s game that along with a few other u16s I got picked to play in. It is truly a privilege playing at U18 level at the age of 15. Even though we lost, it was a strong first ever U18s game for us with me scoring a good amount of points and getting assists. Then…. here comes the time for the first u16 match. I’m scoring good, we’re winning until they come back and hit us hard and game goes into overtime and they (Hertfordshire Warriors) get the W by 9 points. Disappointing loss, but we work hard get back after a break with no U16s games for 3 weeks and then come back and hit our next team harder than we thought getting the win by 66 points. During the 3 week break I was helping the U18s trying to get some W’s with scoring points for them and getting assists. We go the whole season beating every team including Hertfordshire warriors the second time we play them, we were simply unstoppable. I started every game scoring like 15 sometimes 20 and sometimes got double doubles with adding 10 assists in some games. I also got my career high scoring around 35-40 points in one of our games, helping my team as a leader, as the team captain was great experience. Our hard work pays off and we make the playoffs, with two weeks without a game to prepare. During those two weeks the clubs division 2 men’s team had some injury problems and I get called up to play in the Division 2 men’s team, truly a great blessing.

Finally after 2 weeks, playing four Div 2 games, here comes the playoffs. Afrasyab Khalil U16 PlayoffThe first quarter they (Eastside Eagles) trash us bad, we try come back but we go into halftime down by 19 . I’ve scored alright yet nothing special. Then we get back and in the 3rd quarter we come back cutting the lead down, the team started scoring well and at one point we get a steal I run score on fast break, they miss, we come back I get open hit a three, then get another fastbreak layup. Then we get on another fast break and I get the pass and go for it and made the reverse layup and got a foul as well so and1 crowd was going crazy, I make my free throw get some more free throws make them as well, and then last quarter we come back and get the win (68-65) to proceed to the next round of playoffs.

At this age, playing u16s is normal but playing u18s is a privilege and playing senior men’s division 2 is truly a blessing for me. God has blessed me with these opportunities and I’m going to take advantage of these and make a name for myself. I thank coach Jack, coach Daniel and coach Jaime for these huge opportunities.