A student at SEEVIC College, Benfleet is targeting a basketball scholarship at an American University later this year thanks to her new found confidence which she attributes to studying SkillsActive's Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE).
Ashleigh Munns, 17 from Basildon is not a typical college student; she juggles studying for three A levels, the AASE programme and playing top flight basketball for her club Sevenoaks Suns which means she’s up against senior GB internationals every week. She has all but given up her social life to reach her full potential and travel the 80 mile round trip to club training twice a week in Sevenoaks, but her hunger and desire shows no bounds.
Choosing to enrol on the AASE basketball programme at SEEVIC, as the only girl alongside 13 boys, has been a turning point that she believes has really increased her confidence and self belief. She now has her sights set on a place at an NCAA Div 1 or Div 2 University to further her playing career, inspired by several club team mates at Sevenoaks Suns that have chosen to study in the USA.
Looking back, she said “before I started at College, I didn’t have as much confidence generally. At first I hated not having a social life and not seeing my school friends but over the last 12 months, I have totally committed to basketball and AASE was the missing link to help my game and develop me as a stronger and more confident person.”
Her selection for the AASE basketball Leonardo trip to Germany for two weeks last summer, was she says ‘one of the most amazing experiences of my life’, not because they won four out of five games but she found a new self-belief in her ability instilled by the coaching team and team mates that became close friends.
The AASE programme involves regular strength and conditioning sessions which complement her club training sessions, and individual mentoring and performance analysis totalling ten sessions per week. The style of learning and work ethic is now instilled in her training and performance, she commented, “I didn’t used to like working hard, now I love being pushed to my limits and I know working hard brings results, it’s the only way to improve”.
Ashleigh’s goal for 2012 is to be selected for the England U18 team to compete at the European Championships in August and as the Olympic Games comes to London, she hopes women’s sport, in particular basketball, will be elevated to where it belongs, commenting; “it’s just not taken seriously enough in this country, but in my experience the AASE programme is really helping to move things in the right direction.”
Created by SkillsActive and funded by the Skills Funding Agency, AASE is a sports performance programme for young talented athletes. It’s designed to directly measure an athlete’s ability to plan, apply and evaluate their development in the appropriate technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of their sport. It also addresses wider issues such as lifestyle, career development, communication and health and safety.