A 15-year-old basketball prodigy, trained and supported by Reading Rockets throughout 2018, has become the first British player to sign for FC Barcelona Basketball Club.
Matthew Marsh, who originally hails from Penryn in Cornwall, moved to Reading in early 2018 to attend the Rockets basketball programme based at John Madejski Academy.
From a small town with a population of just 7,000, Matthew’s basketball team was enthusiastic but without the infrastructure for someone of his stature – literally!
At 6ft10, Matthew’s active lifestyle, ambition and potential required a shift change. Conversations between his parents, Angela and Tim, his club and JMA Director of Basketball Matt Johnson, Matthew opted to move five hours into the country to Reading, where he has thrived.
In 2018 alone, the youngster has been fully supported by Academy staff, living away from home, training every day and playing at the highest level possible for his age group – the Elite Academies Basketball League (EABL).
Having the benefit of training with other international players, Matthew was recently selected for the Great Britain U16 squad, with whom he will compete in the European Championships this summer.
It was then that the call came from FC Barcelona, who offered the rising star a two-year scholarship, which begins in September. It caps a fantastic year for Matthew, who has recently concluded his GCSEs, and JMA Rockets, who have demonstrated its credentials as the go-to centre of excellence for aspirational young basketball players.
JMA Rockets Director of Basketball Matt Johnson commented: “It is a momentous occasion for Matthew and his family, as well as an incredibly proud moment for our school and club. These opportunities don’t arise often but Matthew absolutely deserves it; he is a great athlete, an excellent student and a well-mannered young man. The coaches and support he has received while at JMA Rockets has been of the highest level, and he has thrived in this environment. I have no doubts he will make the most of this opportunity.”
Rockets Head Coach Alan Keane added: “Matthew has worked hard at the academy this season. Although he is still new to the sport, he has put in the hours to get his body in great shape, and he will relish the chance to be in one of the best performance environments in the world. We look forward to following his progress very closely and wish him all the best for this wonderful opportunity.”
Matthew Marsh said: “I am delighted to be going to Barcelona to continue to develop my basketball career following an enjoyable and successful year with the Rockets and JMA where the support from coaches and staff has enabled me to pursue my dream career for which I am really grateful.”