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Chiemeka: Heading Home

08 August 2007
Katrin Chiemeka (England) English native Katrin Chiemeka respresented her country at the U16 European Championship last season. This year, she played domestically in France with Cob Calais. Chiemeka will share her thoughts in her blog on fibaeurope.com

Salut!

Now I’m back home and I feel really sad that the championship is already over, I would have loved to continue playing another few matches!

So as you know we won our last game against The Netherlands, everybody was happy to finish on a victory. We got 7th place which is okay, but I think we could have done better.

Anyway, after our last match we went to the beach for a swim as our warm-down. It was fantastic, we did not even mind the big waves. Then we went back to watch the 3rd and 4th place match and the final. We also took loads of England stuff to trade and swapped them with other teams. Luckily I got some Irish, Dutch, Finnish etc. shorts and/or shirts and even an organisers t-shirt from our guide Lorenzo.

The 3rd/4th-place game was Israel against Slovenia and it was pretty exciting. My team was cheering for Israel as they came from our qualifying group. But they lost. Then we watched Germany against Italy, it was a close game and the home country won. Svenja Brunckhorst (number 6) from Germany got injured, and I hope it’s not too serious!

Afterwards there was the closing ceremony and the MVP was announced (Nika Baric) as well as the all-tournament team. Unfortunately we couldn’t exchange our England stuff with either the Italians or the Germans as the bus was waiting for us to take us back to the hotel.

In the evening we already said bye to our Bulgarian friends (who were in the same hotel with us) as they were leaving early next morning. It felt quite weird for us to pack and leave the following afternoon. These 10 days championship went so quickly, and I would not have minded to also play the Slovenian team (against Nika Baric)!

On Monday, 6th of August, we were free to do as we pleased: Most of us went back to the beach for a last swim. And then I got a little surprise. As it was my birthday a cake had been prepared for me with my name, my number and the English flag on it! It looked beautiful and it tasted delicious!

I think this championship in Chieti was memorable. The England team and staff were brilliant and we all had a good time! I do not know though if I preferred last year’s championship in Jyväskylä or this year’s one. They were different: In Chieti it was boiling hot, we were next to the beach, in Finland it was warm and we had lakes … But it was a pity that in Italy the teams were not all in the same hotel like in Finland where it was always nice to meet the other teams and try to make conversation.

For the England team the championship 2007 went so-so. I believe all of us enjoyed it and not many girls became home-sick as most of the parents were present. Compared to last year we had more supporters (parents) and it was a nice atmosphere. Just a shame that we didn’t get to the semi-finals!

For my part I really enjoyed the experience and I played okay! It’s probable the first time that I took as much responsibility as a point guard. And I did a good job in defence. But I didn’t get any assists (in the statistics, I know I dished out a few)?! But never mind I know it’s hard to do the stats! Obviously I still have to work a lot to improve my game (ball handling, jump shots and so on) and I will!

See you and Ciao for now

PS: Congratulation to the French U16 girls who won the division A title!! ( And
to Diandra Tchatchouang who got MVP!)


04.08.2007

Hi! On Saturday we had, again, an early wake-up call for 8 till 9 a.m. training. And also this time I found myself in bed again after, not for long as Paul Miller came again to help us relax.

Stunning what you can do with your unconscious mind.

Then after lunch we left by bus to our game: Well, we had a rubbish first half with lazy defence and Finland already had a 22-point lead. We fought back in the second half, but the gap was simply too big, so we lost: (-).

Lianne Miller seriously injured herself, so she didn’t play much and won’t be playing with us for our last match to get hopefully 7th place. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Kristies’ ankle and Naomie’s knee to be alright so we can join our forces and get our own back against the Netherlands. We are definitely not leaving on a defeat!

By the way, well done to Germany (who won against Slovenia, and we only watched the first half: sniff!) and well done to Italy who beat Israel.

It will be an interesting final on Sunday. I’m quite sad that the tournament is coming to an end though.

Today Sunday: And yes we won, and I’m happy for us. Sorry Holland. I suppose we will meet again. Now it’s time for me to go and get ready for the finals.

More later. Bye for now. Arriverderci!




04.08.2007

Ciao, here I am again!

At last we won again! (lol) No seriously, it was nice to win but we should have won this match with much more than 6 points against Romania (without being disrespectful to our opponents as every team deserves to win).

I was especially happy because I had a good game and I got 11 rebounds: You see, I knew my actual vocation in Basketball was to play center! Just kidding! But I’m a 1.65m guard...I have to grow then! Anyway a victory is a victory and we had to play Finland next for 5th-6th place.

Then we had a day off. We could have gone to the mountains but we decided to stay in Pescara and just relax.

Millie, our captain, and I went for an early morning run on the beach (at 7 a.m.) which was really nice and refreshing, as it was not boiling yet! Then I got back to bed until breakfast because I’m a “marmote” (as they say in French) and like to sleep (just joking).

In the morning we went to town and in the afternoon to the beach. Our families joined us and we played beach volley together and then off to the sea. It was great fun, we had a good laugh and I was very pleased to also see my little brother again and play with him!

Afterwards we had cake and a nice surprise: Ollie Jerram, our ex-team manager, arrived to Italy. So happy to see you, we really, really missed you!!! And… to end a cool day went to a pizza palace and had a photo session.

After a great day like this we were fit to play against Finland!



04.08.2007

Bongiorno again! And sorry to disappoint you: we lost again, this time against Germany.

But I think it had more to do with us loosing against Israel where I hurt my teeth after only 2 minutes of me coming on (fortunately it’s okay now).

After further analysing the Israeli match I think England mainly lost because of the basic stuff, that is missing, like boxing-out, playing hard defence which we didn’t do and our free throws which were bad (sniff).

So the next morning we had a good training session and after Lianne’s dad (who is a performance trainer) came and taught us some relaxation/concentration/positive thinking methods to get a good start into the following game, to sum it up: just play without thinking!

It’s amazing all the things your mind controls! Thanks for all your advice Paul Miller!

Then the match took place in the bigger hall (our first time there and not so hot!) which we started well, but then the Germans got a 10-point-lead on us and we never came back.

I still think we should have won this game, but this time we were a bit lazy in defence.

So today we have to win (in the hot hall!) We will give everything on the court, well I will! And tomorrow we have a rest day. What can I say, everything else is okay, my team mates are great as we all get on pretty well and have great fun in our little free time!

And to the teams that have qualified for the semi-finals (and have beaten us: Germany and Israel): WELL DONE and GOOD LUCK!

I also hope that all the participating countries from first to last place take
this experience positively and are having fun.



01.08.2007

Our second match was against Bulgaria. It went well and we had a comfortable win in the end (69-46). I think we all played okay and we were up for our next game against the Netherlands.

A swim the evening before this match was a good way of taking our minds of the championship. Plus we are a good team, not only on the court but also off it.

Unfortunately the match against the Netherlands did not go as smoothly as we hoped: We even had a 20-point-lead at one stage. But lack of concentration, heat, over-excitement and our poor free throws allowed the Dutch team to come back in the last quarter (50-50).

And in the end we lost by 2 points. How disappointing and at the same time that’s what makes basketball so interesting!

Everybody was upset, as we had played the Dutch girls in the preparation series a few weeks back.

So we only finished second of our group and Israel was our first opponent in the qualifying round. Before the second phase all the teams had a rest day. We explored Pescara and did some shopping, went to the beach, played beach volleyball and just relaxed.

We really needed that to get rid of all the frustration. In the evening we had a team talk to focus on our next match.

Somehow though the following afternoon we could not get going properly and we lost our second match in a row against a very physical Israeli team.

That reminded me of last year’s encounter with Israel where I ended up with a black eye!

Nevertheless, tomorrow we will play better! So we were prepared.

13.07.2007

At last we are in Italy! I really couldn’t wait to go and I still feel very excited about this championship.

First things first, Before we flew from cold England (brrrr) to hot Italy (35 degrees Celsius!!!) we had a 2-day camp which went well and it was really nice to be with the team again.

The only difficulty we had before the flight was to get our bags not to weigh more than 15kg! Well, mission accomplished, for me anyway.

After we arrived in Italy and a brief stop at our hotel in Pescara a nice opening ceremony was waiting for us in a hall in Chieti rounded off with a local flag-throwing troop. Grazie! Then we had Italian Pasta, which we enjoyed, as we were all pretty hungry after a long travelling day.

We are close to the sea, but we are not on holiday here, so the next day (27 July) we had our first training session and our first game against the Irish team. I was really nervous (and I don’t think I was the only one!) but I was impatient to get on the court and play and we won our first game despite the fact that we were boiling in the hall! But I’m happy with our win; it’s a good start into this competition!

Very early on Saturday morning we have a training session to prepare for our game against Bulgaria in the afternoon. I hope we can win!

A presto


Hi!

Sorry that the news is coming out late but I have been quite busy the last few days!

Last weekend as planned the English U16 squads (cadets and cadettes) went to Eindhoven (The Netherlands) for two international games against the Dutch U16 teams. The first day started really early as I left home at 5am. I have to admit I am not used to rising at the crack of dawn anymore; remember I am on holiday!

Anyway, it was worth getting up so early as it was a great weekend: basketball-wise and fun-wise (and I finally met the U16 England boys!)

I think all of us had great fun being together and Rachel must have had a birthday to remember as she scored her first points for England in an international game!

This camp reminded me a bit about last years’ Europeans!! Times were set for everything (training, lunch and so on) and we were picked up and brought back to the hotel and airport (even the parents)!  Oh yeah and that hotel was great, a 4 star … nothing to complain about! lol.

To our pleasant surprise before each game the players were presented and the national anthem was played. All of us sang before the boys match, but girls, some singing lessons are required (just joking).

Now let’s talk about the serious stuff:

After recovering from our journey to Eindhoven we had a 2-hour-training session.

Everything went alright except our free throws although we have been working on it.  Later during the day we watched the boys beat the Dutch and then it was finally our turn to play. Even though we lost we still did a good job playing together and executing our coaches’ instructions!

On Sunday we won our game and I believe we played well, and going home on a victory is always good for the moral-You can see our joy in the picture!- By the way the boys lost their second game.

I feel that this weekend was very beneficial even though there were a few injured and sick players.

As I’m mentioning injuries, my ankle is finally better!! I was really happy to be able to play again after 6 weeks off but I have to admit it took me really long to strap my ankle but it was worth the effort.

I also have to say that we were hitting our free throws in the game, so our practice paid off to the relief of all of us and … Karen did not loose her voice!

I also would like to say “dank u wel” to the organisers and “tot ziens” to the Dutch girls.

And before I forget I would also thank Mark Clark, my coach of last year’s England U16 team and now head coach of the GB women’s team, for the nice preface he wrote in our tournament handbook.

As the year of women’s basketball is coming to an end, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have an all star game between div. A and div. B in the three categories (U16, U18, and U20) during Eurobasket 2007?

Oh, congratulations to Tony Parker who got married last weekend! He could have invited me! After all I had met him personally and he even signed my poster when I was 12, I guess he does not remember … anyway I couldn’t have come as I was in Holland!

14 days to go… and time to learn some basic Italian!!

Ciao!


At last, after three weeks my foot is better and I can walk without limping! And soon maybe go running?! (It's probably the first time that I can't wait to run! Just kidding) But it’s the first time in over two years that I have been unable to do any sports for such a long time!! I have to admit though that a little break is not so bad, just a bit of time to do nothing, think about other things. Still, I can’t wait to play basketball again!

Despite the fact that I was unable to train, I went to the last training camp just to watch. I have to admit that it was to just sit there as I would have preferred to join in than just watch my teammates train!! Actually I did some really tiring training, working for hours on my ball handling while sitting! (lol) But as I wasn’t the only one hurt we went to the gym to do some cycling and some weights while the others were just shooting.

At the end of the training camp our coaches had finally made their decision and announced the team going to Italy for the European Championship. I was very happy as Karen told me that I was going for the championship again (as I did last year) but I feel for my teammates, who are disappointed not to be selected because I really got on well with them! So I hope they will continue working hard and get picked next year! Hope to see you again!

Now for all of the 12 girls picked we have to start preparing ourselves physically and mentally for the championships and obviously we are meeting up all together to train collectively. So in two weeks time we travel to Holland with the U16 boys to play a few games against the Dutch national team.

As I’m not allowed to run yet I decided to do some swimming and other exercises to keep my fitness level up! And as I’m not supposed to jump yet, for shooting practice, I basically sit down and shoot around the court (to avoid jumping because once I play I forget about my ankle!).

Anyway I believe that the European Championships will go well for us.  We have trained well and hard all season and our head coach and staff have done a lot of work in getting us to play as a team as well as working on some of our individual skills. So THANK YOU to them for investing so much.

Personally I have a lot of confidence in my teammates and I am sure that we will do well as we have worked hard and continue to work hard until the beginning of the competition! And our coaches also believe in us! So we will all give our best to represent England (which means for me to represent the country, the whole squad even those who haven’t been picked, the staff and the supporters!).  I Just hope that we won’t suffocate because of the heat in Chieti in Italy! I’m only messing around!

As usual, Karen lost her voice yet again at the training camp but she assured me that it was just because she had a sore throat!

Oh yeah, GOOD LUCK to the U18 England team (as I know them and have already played with them) and also the U18 French team! Their championships begin next week!

See you in two weeks time after a few preparation matches!


01.06.2007

It is so great to finally be at home after all these months away. And like I mentioned in my previous blog I - at last - played in the international tournament with the England U16 in Violaines, France, and it went okay.

I got to the venue at around 5pm and to my astonishment my team had not arrived. They came over by ferry and, maybe they had some difficulties driving on the other side of the road?

Anyway, while I was waiting, I had a good workout and also had a peep at all the other teams who arrived in the meantime. When I eventually met up with my team I had to change into our official uniform and soon afterwards we had to go for a presentation at the Town Hall - something typically French. After the official opening and our evening meal, it
was time to return to the hotel.

Of course, it did not take long for the first incident to occur. We left our key card in our room and despite our efforts to retrieve the key (as the reception was closed) we were not successful. We feared we would have to sleep on the floor with some of the other girls, which did not appeal to us. But fortunately one of the organisers offered up their room for the night so we were saved.

The first tournament day started early with us trying to be ready to go for breakfast by 7am as our first match was scheduled for 9am. Before we even played our first match our team had lost one member due to sickness. Lucky for her she could rest and get well in order to play the next day.

Our first match was against Luxembourg and despite the fact that we had not really woken up we won comfortably. Our next match, which we lost, was against Matrixx Magixx U19 from Holland, which in my opinion was the harder and more physical of the two games. Still we were in good spirit and bounced back from our defeat in our last match of the day against a Swiss regional team from Geneva. It was a disciplined if not spectacular performance.

Afterwards we stayed on to support Matrixx Magixx (NL) in the last match of the evening against Ypres (B). Great match, with plenty of action, on and off the court, and a last 3-point shot by Matrixx on the buzzer to win the game was really exciting!

Then it was party time! When the organisers put on the music and started to dance, a couple of my teammates joined immediately and after a while, the dance floor filled up with everybody else, and of course, our coaches, too! It was really fun.

On the second day of the tournament our team was complete for our first match at 3 pm. No problems against a regional club side from Paris. We then knew we had to win our last group match against Ypres, a good club side (probably U18/19) from Belgium. We lost, nothing much to report, but if we had converted some of our missed free throws then the match may have taken a different turn. And this match did not turn out well for me either, I hurt my ankle early on in the game, continued to play, which turned out not to be a good idea as I now can’t walk at all.

On the final day, due to my injury I missed out on our last match for 5th place which personally upset me because I have played against this side five times this season with my club side and I know some of these girls pretty well! Bad luck.

We finished 6th and the whole tournament was a success and the main objective for our coaches was attained: learn how to play together and discover our good and bad points. Now we all know what we have to work on, passing, zone defence, free throws, systems and so on. No, I am only kidding, but we do have to work on our free throws!

A few hours later I said a sad goodbye to my teammates when they left to catch a ferry after the closing ceremony. And before I forget I would like to thank all the parents and supporters who came over from England to encourage us. I hope they enjoyed themselves and had a good time in France. And I also hope my coach’s voice has come back by now!

Luckily my swollen foot, which still hurts a lot and stops me from running around, can’t keep me from updating my blog. And I truly hope to be able to attend the next training camp.

Hey, I have almost forgotten to thank the organisers!

Merci pour ce super tournoi et votre accueil chaleureux!

So long!



29.05.2007

The tournament for young girls I was talking about in my last blog was organised by Valerie Caron, the trainer of the mini-poussines 1 of COB Calais. The format of the competition was 4 vs 4 for the under 9s while the poussines played 5 vs 5. In total 10 teams answered the call.

We had to meet at 9 am on Sunday, pretty early for my young ones (two are only 7!). Well, for me no problem, I am used to getting up at 6 am on Sundays! Sometimes when our away matches are far away that is! Anyway, as my first match with the mini-poussines 2 was scheduled for 11:30, I finally could spend more time with my little ones and started by warming them up properly. In fact I played 1 against 6! Maybe I should have done that more often as I enjoyed it myself, too. The girls really made me sweat it out! That gives me something to think about for next season!

To make a long story short, we finished second: we only lost one match and that was against a team with

Katrin Chiemeka
Katrin Chiemeka's team finished in third place.
a couple of boys on it. I was very proud of my girls because they played well and also had fun. To my utter astonishment, my players – as they usually lack concentration - managed to surpass themselves during the shooting competition in which they also took part.

So at the end of this long day, they were very happy to receive their trophy for second place. The only problem was that all the girls wanted the cup, which I was holding in my hands. Finally, it was Coline Butez who won it after her name was picked out of a bag. But I still had a surprise for all of them, a tee shirt from FIBA Europe!

The domestic Basketball season is over, so is my school year, which went okay. As a result I have been admitted into Première S. Now I am finally going back home but I feel a little sad as I have to leave my new friends behind and a super class. Well life goes on.

My last week at the club was reduced to one training session. So in order to keep my fitness up in prep for the tournament in Violaines, I decided to go running and do a series of exercises. More about this and the outcome in my next blog.

A tutti.

Katrin


08.05.2007

Hello!

Now let’s study the Spanish playoffs. What I noticed is that Laia Palau seems to be a lucky player! She won everything in France last year with Bourges and this season in Spain she has done the same with Ros Casares. I really wonder if any other player in recent history has won two European Grand Slams.

The Spanish playoff was an incredible series that went to five games but the highlight for me was the game four comeback by Perfumerias, their defence and hustling was amazing.

In the French playoffs nothing much has changed, USVO have a 25-point lead over Mondeville, while Bourges only lead by 2 points against Villeneuve. But knowing that Bourges has not been beaten at home this

Katrin Chiemeka
Katrin Chiemeka and her Cob Calais teammates are thinking about next year.
season, I think it will be difficult for Villeneuve to win their away match. But we’ve seen it before, teams making it against the odds! That’s what makes basketball so exciting!

As the season has ended for us, we are all talking about what we will do next season. This time last year I remember Maud Lesoudard (final year U18 player) who was thinking about how to combine studying medicine and playing Basketball. In the end she found a university not far from a good basketball club and this weekend she has become NF1 champions with Reims and in the meantime also passed her first year medical exams. I have not spoken to her for a while, I better give her a call.

In two weeks time I will have the last tournament with my U9 team to nicely wrap up the season. I intend to continue training them well and hope they still enjoy themselves and, of course, if they win that would be “la cerise sur le gâteau” as you say in French!

Now I am looking forward to seeing the girls of the England squad as we are meeting up in three weeks for an international tournament in Violaine, France, not far from my club.

I hope my coach, Karen Burton, does not loose her voice like she usually does!  She screams a lot but only to encourage us and obviously advise us! I’m already very excited and can’t wait for the tournament to start. An added attraction will be the unofficial U16 Benelux championship with the participation of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. I am sure the Netherlands will give it all to defend their title. Hey, this time there’ll be England to be taken into consideration as well.

In the beginning of June I will report back about this tournament! Now back to school! Noch einige Wochen bis Ferienbeginn! Vive les vacances! Ciao Chieti?



04.05.2007

Hello !

My name is Katrin Chiemeka, and I’m a member of the « centre de  formation » (youth academy) at Cob Calais in France. I was also in the  England’s 2006 cadette team for the European Championships and I am  currently a member of the 2007 squad.

The season 2006/2007 was the 10th year of the Ligue Feminin Basket  (LFB). And what a cracker with USVO only taking the championship on the last day.

Meanwhile, Calais had a terrible time and failed to make the playoffs for the second year. Well, you cannot always win …

About my season in Cob Calais: it went quite well and we managed to get to the quarterfinals of the French cup. Unfortunately, we lost by two points against USVO and our dreams of reaching Paris were shattered.

Now our season is over and it’s time to prepare for the international season starting with a tournament with the England squad in France at the end of May.

Presently I’m hoping to participate again in the European Championships which is taking place this summer in Chieti, Italy, as last year’s competition in Jyväskylä, Finland, was an unforgettable experience. This time it’ll be nice if we can do a lot better than the 12th place. I am planning to write a blog about my experiences with the England team this year. I was very happy when a picture of me playing against Portugal was published (thank you to Ad Van Geffen from the Netherlands who took that picture).

My involvement with FIBA Europe’s Year of Women Basketball has been in coaching 6 to 8-year-old girls. I don’t know if I’m a great trainer, but  the players of my team had a reasonable season as we finished 3rd in our league. During their first official game my girls applied everything I  taught them and they actually won; something I’ll never forget!

That’s it for today.
Bye, until next time!
Au revoir, à la prochaine!
Tschüss, bis zum nächsten Mal!
Hasta luego!

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