The three girls from Essen are currently still in the U12 group, but next year they should be U14. However, Esbac does not have a U14 team yet. Both girls and coach Ken Sui, 32, want to change that.
“To start a U14 team, we are looking for at least three more girls, and five would be better,” says the coach. “There is a lot of talent in the team that I don’t want to waste. The fear is that if we don’t start the U14 team, these girls will stop. They have already pointed out that and experience shows that moving outside Essen is a barrier to continuing to play basketball.”
Julian, Fimke and Noua are three from Essen. Julian was inspired by her father and brother who already play basketball. “However, it took me a long time to play basketball,” she laughs. Four months ago he was allowed out of the house. I will swim once a week instead of twice. I also take guitar lessons.”
Anne Waters and Emma Messmann, two of the national Belgian cats, are great examples of the Fimky. She does gymnastics and is a member of Chiro, but basketball is still her favorite pastime. Through that youth movement, I got to know Noah and put her on the throne of Spain.
Although girls are allowed to play on a mixed team until U14, they find it more fun to play sports with the girls alone. “We are a great girls’ team. Thanks to the basket, you can also build a strong relationship with each other,” Julian says.
“Basketball is a very active sport and we learn a lot more between girls than we do when boys play as well,” adds Noa. Fimki has improved with sports and believes it is important to play together.
Coach Ken agrees: “Girls train a lot differently than boys. I do it with a little softer hand. I’m usually very strict. However, you get a lot in return, they are really close to my heart in no time. They are also very passionate and that’s why I really want to start a U14 team.”
To motivate girls in the sport, Esbac goes to schools. “We give initiatives on sports days and hold open days. The Belgian Cats women’s team and their performance in the Olympic Games also continue to inspire.”
Although Jolien, Femke and Noa, who are 1.60m and 1.58m respectively, are quite tall for their ages, height does not play a role either for the coach or the girls. “Being younger can be an advantage to defend yourself, that’s the hardest thing in sports,” they say.
Ken Sui himself is completely obsessed with basketball. “I have been playing it since I was 12 years old. Until a couple of years ago I was active in the first team for Wuustwezel and then moved to Essen. Now I play here in the second team and I focus mainly on coaching the men’s teams, under-18s, under 14s and girls.” On the way was also the ruling in the third citizen. He also has a full-time job as a window and door installer.
What attracts him to basketball? “It is a very active sport, with short sprints, you will never stand still. It is also a very tactical game. Unlike football, you can defend and attack as well as score here. This makes the game more fun.”
Although the new season starts in September, Esbac will actually start preparations on August 1. Ken Sui dreams of assembling an under-14 and under-21 team in Essen as well.