Category: Community

SEN Camp and Special Olympics

February half term saw the Reading Rockets run their first ever SEN Basketball camp.

The club’s programme for  children with special educational needs has grown and grown over the past 12 months with coaching in 7 local special needs schools and 2 weekly Satellite clubs.

The programme is run by experienced coaches who all have a vast amount of coaching experience in this area and for some have also completed academic courses in Autism awareness, inclusive coaching and SEN teaching.

The club is now working closely with Special Olympics GB to increase the opportunity local youngsters have to access the special Olympics pathway and compete locally, nationally and also internationally. Steph Johnson who is head of Rockets SEN Programme was delighted that the club was able to offer their first SEN basketball camp.

“ This has been something that has been in our planning for the last 12 months and we were actually able to deliver it earlier than planned due to the huge amount of young people we were delivering basketball too throughout the school term. Another motivation behind it was I became aware of how little there is on offer during school holidays for children with additional needs as many clubs break for the holidays. I felt we could fill a much needed gap and I’m looking forward to an SEN Camp being a regular fixture in the club’s holiday programmes in the future. Our thanks go to Berkshire Community Foundation who  provided vital funding which made running our camp a reality, we are extremely grateful for their support”.

For more information on the club’s SEN Programme please contact

Rockets Historic National Cup Finals weekend

Next weekend on Sat 19 and Sun 20th Jan Reading Rockets will travel to Essex University where both their U 18 teams will be challenging for the titles whilst the Rockets Ladies will also be representing the club in the Senior Cup final less than 24 hours later on the same court.

This is the first representation of 3 teams in the National Cup Finals by Rockets in its 21 year history and is a true reflection of the developments of Rockets Academy programme, especially the Girls one as half the Senior Ladies team is comprised of U 18 Academy girls. The Academy programme is overseen by G.B. U 18 Junior Men Head Coach and Commonwealth Assistant Head Coach Alan Keane who’s in his third season at Rockets.

Ladies Head Coach David Sanchez, is thrilled to have the U 18 Girls Head Coach Blai  Benlloch Villagrasa as his assistant and together the Spaniards have made major contributions to the female game in their 3 years with Rockets. With the Junior Men programme also having grown in stature since Keane’s arrival, the future looks very rosy for Rockets. Coach Keane has also got the Senior Men into the National Trophy semi-final stage.

Rockets Ladies reach the National Cup Final

Their coach David Sanchez comments:

From a coach’s perspective it is fantastic to reach a final. This one is my second year as the head coach of the ladies team and we were thirsty to get into a final with these girls. From my point of view, this year was going to be hard, as we have many young girls but they bring lots of energy. The semifinal game was really hard: Anglia Ruskin was fighting until the end and it was a great game to demonstrate the level we can reach this year.  We look forward to preparing for and playing the final.  Both teams have a lot of talent and in my opinion the winner of the game will be the one who maintains their concentration and makes less mistakes.  We feel ready for the challenge and excited to have this chance to bring the trophy to the club.

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Andrea Gomez, one of Rockets’ players says:

The feeling of getting into the finals after defeating an amazing team such as Anglia Ruskin was amazing. We have been working really hard to get to play as we want to and with FAMILY spirit and even though we still have a lot to improve, that game was a reflection of that hard work and TEAM spirit that we have. We all are so excited to be in the final and losing is not in our minds. We want to enjoy and have a game that we all can happily remember.

We have a great team in front of us that plays really well.   I’m sure it’s going to be a really hard game for both sides and the winner will be the one who wants it more. I’m sure each one of us will give the 120% to get that W and enjoy TOGETHER.

It’s always a challenge to play a final, but we feel ready for it.

Rockets Under 18 Girls in the National Cup Final

Looking forward to the game, their coach, Blai Benlloch comments:

“I am really excited and proud of my team for reaching the cup final as I think they deserve to be there after showing a high level of determination and competitiveness in the first part of this season. We can’t wait to play and enjoy the final as it promises to be a very special day!”

Saffie Jarju, one of the team, says:

“Playing in the finals is a huge achievement for us and an exciting experience in our basketball careers. It will give us a chance to play to our full potential and be strong together as a team.”

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Rockets Junior Men in the Under 18 National Cup Final

Ben Fisher is the coach of Rockets Under 18 boys and comments

cid:image001.jpg@01D4A784.2CD84680 “To reach a national final is always such a special achievement and we are all really proud of our guys in being able to achieve this feat. Haringey will be a tough opponent but if we can continue to commit to everything we do and be relentless with everything over the forty minutes then we have a great chance of success through our performance. It promises to be a great weekend for our club and we can’t wait to compete.”

The team’s captain is David Obediah and he says:

“We are all really looking forward to playing in the cup final and for most of us it is the first opportunity to do so. We have been working really hard this season to be the best version of ourselves and in turn be a difficult team to beat. We will go out and give everything against Haringey as we try to put in a performance worthy of a national final and ultimately a win.”

Rockets as both U18 Junior Men and Girls win through to the National Cup Finals

What an achievement by Rockets as both U 18 Junior Men and Girls win through to the National Cup Finals in the New Year.

Reading Rockets Junior Men 88-78 Sussex  Storm

Rockets Under 18 Men came from as many as 13 points down to beat Sussex Storm in the National Cup semi-final on Sunday afternoon as the team reached their first cup final in over ten years.

Rockets, playing at their home court of the John Madejski Academy, started the game on the front foot racing into a 9-1 lead but were pegged back by their opponents as Sussex made an impressive 17-2 run to lead 18-11 midway through the quarter. And it was the visitors to Reading that would finish the period on top as they led 24-32 after only ten minutes.

Rockets responded well as a 7-0 run to open the second quarter reduced the arrears to just one at 31-32. The home team really improved their defence and kept the Storm to nine points in the second stanza as they headed into the locker room with a two point advantage leading 43-41 at the break.

A nip and tuck opening to the third quarter saw the game finally poised at 46-45 before Sussex blew the game open with a 18-5 run to lead 63-50 with two and a half minutes remaining in the period. Rockets did trim the deficit to eight at the end of thirty minutes as Storm took a 26-16 quarter to lead 59-67.

But the Rockets weren’t done and had an excellent start to the final quarter as a 19-2 run propelled them into a nine point lead, 78-69; an advantage they wouldn’t surrender. The visitors reduced the deficit to seven but another 10-2 run for the home team ensured delight for the Berkshire outfit at they won a pulsating encounter 88-78 to secure their place in the National Cup final when they will take on Haringey Hawks in Essex.

Head Coach Ben Fisher was very proud of the players and was particularly praiseworthy of point guard David Chive. He said,

“I am so proud of the group and the way they never gave up. We have a real resilience in this team and that showed later in the game even when we were 13 down. The guys deserve this win so much and I am so pleased we get a chance to compete in a national final.”

“I must also give credit to David Chive who was fantastic throughout the whole game and led the team with a huge 33 point haul but today was really about the whole group and their character to win a hard fought contest ” said Head Coach Ben Fisher.

U 18 Girls

City of London Academy 62 – 69 Reading Rockets

In a very big day for Rockets U 18 Girls they narrowly beat CoLA to take them to their first ever National Cup Final !!

CoLA are a very skilful and tough team at both ends of the court and are always prepared and ready to do battle. On Saturday the Rockets U 18’s managed to overcome them in a titanic battle by 69-62.

Coach Blai Benlloch  reflected ‘ the game was tied for nearly all of the first 35 minutes but with just 4 minutes to go ColA took a 6 pint advantage and our girls needed to dig deeper and ignite the Rocket in them. In the final minutes Rockets hit a brace of key trebles  and played some of the best defence we have played all game to hold the opposition to very few tough moments for them. Our thanks go to Coach Jackson and his always impressive team and Rockets is honoured to take our place in the final in January.’

Now to a historic day for Reading Rockets on Sat 19th January 2019…what a start to the New Year for Rockets elite performance programme.