Rewind to the season of 2014-15 when Queen Margaret University Men’s Basketball Team had just completed their winning campaign of the BUCS Scottish 5th Division. Now, at the beginning of the 2018-19 season, QMU’s Men’s 1st team are about to embark on their toughest challenge: the BUCS Scottish Division 1A.
We caught up with QMU’s Captain and three-time Scottish Student National Squad representative, Laurits Juffer. Laurits, a native of The Netherlands, had never before experienced Scottish Student Basketball so was keen to see what Scotland had to offer.
“When I first came to QMU, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had seen pictures of former teams online and maybe heard a story or two from alumni but in general, I had very little understanding of university basketball in Scotland.”
Despite the new setting and surroundings, 6ft 8” Juffer was excited by the challenges ahead: “The team appointed a new coach, new players arrived, and there was a shift in mentality to focus on improving your game, working hard no matter what, and achieving our goal of winning the league and being promoted.”
With the targets set, QMU’s mission was simple: compete hard and win the league to gain promotion. “I loved winning and we had tremendous fun throughout the process.” Juffer commented, after his team went undefeated and achieved their overall goal, seeing promotion in his first season.
Moving into the Scottish 3A division QMU faced a tougher challenge however, it was something that the Men’s Basketball team were prepared for. “We knew the competition would be much tougher and faster. We trained more; we trained harder; we invested time in the gym and on the court. Everybody on the team got invested into our new goal of winning the 3rd Division and winning the Scottish Conference Cup, both of which were achieved.” Juffer and his team had yet again surpassed all expectations and completed the League and SSS Conference Cup double, beating Robert Gordon University in the final.
The club has gone from strength to strength and is becoming one of the largest sports clubs on campus. Four years ago, the team struggled to field a full squad of 12. Fast forward to the current season and QMU boast three men’s teams who are all competing and offering opportunity for students to enhance their experience at university.
The Dutchman noted that the support from their own students provided the much-needed boost to get them over the line. “What’s really helped over the years, and this is something that I haven’t seen elsewhere, is the amount of support we’ve received from other students at QMU. Our games could have anywhere between 50-100 viewers” This can create a great atmosphere and bring all the students on campus together.
The 2016-17 season was topped off nicely for the Men’s 1st team by not only capturing the League and Cup double, but also by scooping ‘Team of the Year’ at the QMU Student Union’s Grand Ball Sports Awards. Continuing their success on the court, the Men’s 1st team delivered yet another League Championship in the 2017-18 season and were rightly promoted to the Scottish Men’s 1A division.
The captain has one more goal to achieve in his final year of study: “Win the 1st division and become the best university team in the country.” This would definitely be one of the biggest achievements by a basketball team in a Scottish BUCS competition by winning four consecutive league titles.