Young sports stars at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) are celebrating after qualifying for the Association of Colleges Sport National Championships.

Teams from the college’s Basketball Academy and Netball Academy will represent the capital after winning in the regional finals at Redbridge Sports Centre in Ilford on 8 December.

The basketball team won all their opening round matches to reach the knockout stages and beat Newham College in the final, while the netball team beat all teams in their competition.

Both teams are now preparing for the national tournament at the University of Nottingham in April under the training and guidance of their coaches AJ Roberts and Yamini Bist.

CONEL’s Basketball Academy and Netball Academy, along with the Football Academy, Martial Arts Academy, Athletics Academy and Esports Academy are based at the college’s Enfield Centre.

The academies are open to all students aged 16-18 at the college and include professional coaching, personal fitness, physiotherapy, nutrition and tactical analysis.

Jonathan Silman, Head of School for Sport, Public Services and KS4, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for our Basketball and Netball Academies. The teams and their coaches have worked exceptionally hard and shown great commitment to develop and improve their skills and performance, which has resulted in them qualifying for the National Championships.

“Our Sports Academies at CONEL continue to go from strength to strength and I am hugely proud that the college will be representing London. The basketball and netball teams and their coaches should be proud of what they have accomplished in their sports, especially the team from the Netball Academy, which only started up at the college recently.

“The National Finals will be an even bigger challenge, but if they continue to apply themselves and show the same dedication then they will give themselves every chance of success.”

The AoC Sport National Championships has been running for more than 40 years and is one of the UK’s largest student sporting events with nearly 1,800 students taking part each year.

Ten regional tournaments are held across England and Wales during the autumn term with the top teams in 13 sports qualifying for the National Championships.

Students compete in boccia, badminton, basketball, cross-country running, football, disability football, hockey, indoor cricket, netball, rugby, table tennis, tennis and volleyball.

CONEL’s sports facilities include a floodlit 3G football pitch, grass pitches, sports centre with sports hall, fully equipped gym and changing rooms, which are also available for hire.

Find out more about CONEL’s Sports Academies here.

Competitive computer gaming, known as esports, is one of the fastest growing sports globally. At the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) we run esports courses and an Esports Enrichment Programme at our Enfield Centre. Here, our newly appointed esports coach Finlay Stewart shares his passion for gaming and how it can help students’ education.

Tell us about your esports journey.

I graduated from university in 2015 and went straight into esports. Since then, I’ve worked many different jobs in the industry from sales executive to managing and coaching teams. I’ve worked as an esports coach for the past seven years with some of the best players and teams from around the globe and also at grassroots level. I’m very excited about our project here at CONEL.

What was your first game console and the first game you played?

I had a Nintendo Game Boy when I was around six years old. My first game was Pokémon Yellow – a classic! Soon after that I got into PlayStation and PC gaming.

What do you enjoy most about playing esports?

I enjoy the social aspect. Playing videogames is great fun on your own but even better with friends or family, especially when you’re all working together towards a goal. These days I rarely play online games on my own.

Tell us about the Esports Enrichment Programme at CONEL.

The Esports Enrichment Programme brings gamers together to play, train and have fun. At the college’s Enfield centre, students have access to 20 powerful gaming rigs and compete against gamers from other schools and colleges in the British Esports Student Champs competition each week. Games include Valorant, League of Legends, FIFA and Rocket League. For the past three years the college team, CONEL Cyphers, have been consistently placed in the top four teams in the country.

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Join up with CONEL Cyphers, CONEL’s official esports team, and compete with other students against colleges from around the country. If you’re not a competitive person, feel free to join up to meet like-minded people and make new friends!
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What skills can you gain playing esports that will benefit your education and career?

Playing in an esports team teaches you many things. First off, it develops your leadership and teamworking skills. It also improves your hand-eye coordination, ability to multitask and your IT, communication and problem-solving skills, to name just a few.

How do you coach someone to be a better gamer?

The way to coach people to be better gamers is the same way you would teach or coach them to do anything really. You find their current level and from there identify their strengths and weaknesses. Teach them to focus on their strengths and work on minimising where they are weak. Show them what they are doing wrong and give them additional areas to work on. The get them to watch back their mistakes and analyse them.

Is gaming still very much a male domain?

It depends on the game in question. Different games have different demographics. For example, mobile gaming is pretty much 50-50 between male and females. Console and PC games are still very male dominated, but some games like Valorant have a huge female player base.

Tell us about the esports courses available at CONEL!

CONEL offers one and two-year esports diploma courses at Level 2 and Level 3, the equivalent of three A Levels, endorsed by the British Esports Association. The courses cover streaming games, tournaments, event planning, game design, video production, coaching and entrepreneurship.

What job opportunities are out there if you become a competent gamer?

The esports industry is expanding at a huge rate and there are many different jobs and roles within the industry. On professional teams you have the pro-players, managers, analysts and coaches, but there are also backroom roles in marketing, sales, HR, merchandising, IT and media.

What do you think of the decision not to include esports in the Commonwealth Games?

It’s disappointing as it had the potential to really raise the profile of esports. I’d like to see it recognised in the Olympic or Commonwealth Games as an actual medal sport. Like any other supports it requires skill, training and commitment to be the best.

What are the side effects of too much gaming and how do you prevent them?

Too much excess of anything is never good. In gaming it can lead to back, neck and wrist problems. The other issues such as headaches are more short term and easier to fix. In general, just don’t overdo it. Take breaks, drink lots of water and eat healthily.

What is a healthy amount of time to spend gaming each week?

I wouldn’t say that there’s a hard limit to the amount of time you spend gaming as long as you are able to meet all your other commitments, get a good eight hours’ sleep, eat well and stay healthy. When it starts to take precedence over everything else, I’d say that’s when it becomes an issue.

What is your best advice on how to become a top esports player?

Play the game. Watch professional players and learn from what they do. At the end of the day, it just comes down to playing more and having the right attitude. Look at your own mistakes and don’t make excuses or blame others. And enrol at CONEL of course!

Find out more about esports courses at CONEL here.

Follow the CONEL Cyphers on Twitter @CONELesports here.

Students can net themselves fantastic skills on and off the court at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) this September.

A new Netball Academy, affiliated to England Netball, has been launched at the college’s Enfield Centre, which is also home to a Football Academy, Basketball Academy and Martial Arts Academy.

The Sports Academies are open to all students aged 16-18 who are studying a full-time course at the centre in Hertford Road, that includes a fully equipped gym, sports hall and changing facilities.

They will compete in college leagues and tournaments, receive a free training kit, professional coaching, fitness training, sports analysis and medical support.

Students will also benefit from work placement opportunities and receive complimentary tickets to high-profile sports events.

Elite athletes can apply for a bursary worth up to £2,500 to help cover the cost of other sports services, equipment and travel.

Jonathan Silman, Head of School for Sport, said: “From netball and basketball to football and martial arts, we have a range of Sports Academies to take part in alongside your studies.

“Each of our academies is partnered with a professional organisation to give you the best training, advice, training and support in your chosen sport. I believe they are the best college sports facilities in London.”

CONEL offers a wide range of courses for school leavers at its centres in Enfield and Tottenham, including courses in Accounting, Business, Construction, Childcare, Creative Media, Computing, Engineering, Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy, Health and Social Care, Music, Public Services, Science, Sport and Travel and Tourism.

The college also offers A Levels at Enfield with CONEL’s sister college, City and Islington College.

Adults aged 19 and over can also study these courses as well as other qualifications in Counselling and Teacher Education, which are all free up to Level 2 along, with many free short courses.

The college even offers Access to Higher Education Diplomas for adults looking to go to university and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses.

Apprenticeships are also available for all ages in a wide range of career paths with top industry employers, as well as employability courses to support people get into work.

Apply now for courses and apprenticeships.

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