Brentwood Leopards Madrid Tour 2017
The Brentwood Leopards BTM Basketball tour to Madrid was an inspiring 5-day experience which saw a close-knit group finish the tour even more unified after tackling adversity, immersing themselves in Spanish culture and sharing a wonderful journey.
The tour took place in Pozuelo, Madrid, a quiet and serene suburb of the Spanish capital which had intense sunshine and beautiful weather over the duration of the 5 days. On the tour were Coaches Greg and Julie, parents Claire B, Claire H and Gary and u14 players Lennon N, Lennon S, Joe, Sam B, Sam V, Noah, Connor, Ollie and Frank.
The group had the opportunity to take on elite Spanish skill sessions, where they were put through their paces by Inaqui Refoyo and Arturo Vera, the former an ex-Real Madrid coach and current CB Pozuelo coach and the latter the Director of Women’s basketball at CB Pozuelo. In these sessions, the boys were exposed to a variety of skills from defensive principles to footwork and shooting, and they were surprised by the in-depth technicalities of what they were being taught.
The boys played 2 games during their trip versus CB Pozuelo, a strong junior program that regularly compete against the likes of Real Madrid, Fuenlebrada and Estudiantes for a place in the Spanish Championships. On the Tuesday evening they suffered a 60-27 loss as they struggled to contend with the Spanish teams’ quick hands defensively and had a hard time stopping the fast-break. However on the Thursday the Leopards boys gave an awe-inspiring performance, playing with the energy and tenacity they are capable of and taking home a 48-39 win against the home team.
On Day 4 the team played some 3 v 3 streetball on a local outdoor court, from which Leopards Head Coach Greg Nagle came away pretty chuffed after his athletic alley-oop finish was captured on film.
Throughout the trip the coaching staff did a brilliant job of teaching the group through positive reinforcement and goal-setting, having various team meetings with the team and giving them a chance to give their input regarding on and off-court situations. BTM Director Tom Ward shared some of his experiences from his playing days in the USA and Spain, offering advice on tackling adversity and optimum game preparation among other things.
The boys spent plenty of time in the Spanish sun at the local swimming pool, where they played a variety of games in the clear blue water and kicked a football around on the grass. This was also a great opportunity for them to have some down time in between their intense basketball sessions and have some well-earned rest. The coaches and parents also appreciated this time to relax and work on their tans.
On the Wednesday the team took a trip into the Madrid city centre, stopping first at the famous Bernabéu Stadium, home of the world’s most successful football team Real Madrid. A 2.5 hour tour of the Bernabéu offered a chance to see behind the scenes of the club, and an insight into how such a successful team is created through tradition, culture and ethos.
The team wandered through central Madrid seeing the sights, and the final stop was Retiro Park where they spent time on the lake in rowing boats, as Leopards Coaches Greg and Julie and their crew took on BTM Director Tom Ward’s crew in a lake-wide race. Unfortunately Greg and Julie’s group got off to a slow start as they rowed in the wrong direction and it was an easy victory for Tom’s boat. Some of the team spent time in the “House of Hoops” basketball store and returned to the bus with wide smiles and boxes of shoes.
The group stayed in a 4* hotel located in the heart of Pozuelo, which offered them maximum comfort during their stay. They ate a nutritious breakfast at the hotel, and ate lunch and dinner at various places including the famous “100 Montaditos” during their Madrid trip which was a lively experience for all involved! They sampled some of the local Spanish cuisine including paella, although many of the boys opted for their homelier burgers, pizza and hot dogs on many of the days ????
Greg and Julie were two of the most upbeat and positive coaches/parents we have met, and were tremendously supportive of the boys throughout the entire trip both on and off the court. They have created an amazing team culture and spirit with the Leopards group which is a testament to the way the boys interact and compete.
Claire, Gary and Claire were kind, thoughtful and very supportive of the group, going out of their way to ensure that the team were happy and safe throughout the trip and bringing a ton of enthusiasm to every event and activity.
Joe was the quiet and thoughtful captain of the team who made the most of all the skill sessions and stepped up hugely in the final game, leading his team to a big victory against a tough CB Pozuelo squad through great shooting and defensive toughness.
Lennon S was a defensive beast who used his long arms and athleticism to cause Pozuelo a lot of trouble and score relentlessly at the offensive end. He made big strides in his skill-set throughout the trip.
Sam B was a very funny character who has a really good defensive energy, unafraid to throw himself on the floor for the good of the team and grabbing offensive rebounds through his strong eye for the ball.
Sam V did a tremendous job of picking up the offensive footwork being taught during the skill sessions, and played the games with a solid defensive toughness, helping out his teammates on the basket line and making sure he was in the right spots.
Ollie was lightning quick in pushing the ball up the floor on the fast-break and hit some crazy shots during the games. Off the court he was one of the team jokers, always ready to make his teammates laugh during any given moment.
As well as bringing with him an 18 kg suitcase full of clothes, Frank also brought with him an upbeat and charming personality and a strong set of fundamentals that served him well during the basketball. He picked things up really quickly and performed to a high level in the games.
Connor is a brilliant little player with a great skill-set and a good motor getting up and down the court. He was very polite and grateful for the experience, always smiling and giving off positive energy to his teammates.
Noah was the self-assured and quietly confident workhorse who powered his way to the basket and fought ferociously for rebounds at both ends, showing off his tremendous potential for the game throughout the skill sessions and game-play.
Lennon N is Mr. Basketball, a little guy with a huge heart and determination to be the best. He competed on every single possession and showed off his incredibly advanced skills with many highlight plays that shocked the local Spanish crowd.
The dynamic of the group was so strong going into the tour, and it was incredible to watch them become even closer throughout the trip. Their experience in Madrid is one they will likely not forget for a very long time, from the coaches and parents to all the players involved.
We are really grateful to have had the opportunity to share a BTM Basketball experience with the Brentwood Leopards and we hope to take another international basketball journey with them in the not so distant future.