Oaklands new captain declares ‘We deserve to be here’
- Credit: Archant
Kyla Nelson says Oaklands Wolves’ inclusion in the Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL) is reward for the college’s hard work promoting and supporting basketball.
The team is one of two new franchises to be included in the WBBL, the highest level of women’s basketball in the country.
And captain Nelson, who spent the last few years studying at Oaklands while always playing for the now defunct Brixton Topcats, is certain the college deserves to be included.
She said: “It’s a great development for Oaklands. I feel like we deserve to be here. They’re doing a great job for female basketball and developing players.
“We’re young this year but just to be able to showcase young talent is great for the sport.
“The league is a lot stronger this year. It was good last year but some of the players that have come into the league this year will be great. People will get to see what female basketball is all about because you’ll have American, European and British talent all in the same league. There’s some big girls, strong girls and fast girls.
“For Oaklands, we’re young and inexperienced but we have youth on our side. We’re fit and done a lot of running in practice so hopefully we’re going to run teams off the floor and just play. There’s nothing that should stop us because there’s no pressure on us.”
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On a personal level the GB international believes Oaklands is the perfect place to be. She even turned down advances from colleges in the USA to remain in Hertfordshire although the collegiate system in America is still her target destination.
She said: “I had a couple of offers to go to America this year but they weren’t the right fit for me.
“I had a back injury last year which kept me out so this year I want to get fitter, better and stronger and hopefully do something out there at a school that suits me.”
Improvement is also the name of the game for Amber Charles, another former Brixton player, who decided to join up with the Wolfpack.
she said: “I’ve played with Kyla before and I knew the coach and I feel like it’s a team where I can achieve my best and also it’s nice with the set up we have.
“We’re a young team, we’re fresh and there are no pre-conceived ideas about us so we can just go out and play our basketball and have fun.
“We’re aiming to continually improve as the season progresses, pushing ourselves and trying to be better in every game.
“This is a big year for me. I want to make sure I’m pushing myself and improving. I want to see how good I can be and how far I can go and hopefully get to go abroad next year and play in a higher league.”
But, while the squad is predominantly made up of British talent, the club has recruited from elsewhere.
Hungarian twins Anna and Kristina Nagy plan to spend the next few years combining studying sport studies and exercise with playing in the WBBL.
The 16-year-olds said: “We really wanted to learn some English and the language but we found the school and it’s really great here. Plus if we go to school here we get to play Basketball.
“The basketball culture is completely different here than to Hungary. It’s more like an American style, so we have to get to used to this different style. We have to improve physically because we are not strong enough for this playing style.”
They admit to finding life away from Budapest a bit difficult but say the welcome has helped them get used to life.
“Everyone was so kind to us when we first arrived and helpful,” they added. “In the beginning we didn’t speak English very well and we didn’t understand certain things but they’ve helped us.”