Performance Sport


Essex Rebel Students playing in a basketball match

As a future basketball player for the University of Essex, you'll join one of the top student-athlete pathways in the UK. Our dedicated and inclusive community offers personalised opportunities for your growth, both personally and athletically. 

If you love basketball...

We have teams competing in BUCS inter-university competitions as well as our 5v5 league and intramural competitions.

  • Our women’s teams play in the BUCS Premier League, BUCS Tier 1, BUCS National Championships and BUCS National Trophy
  • Our three men’s teams play in BUCS Premier League and Tier 1 and BUCS regional leagues and BUCS National Championships, BUCS National Trophy and BUCS Conference

Our Essex Rebels professional teams offer a premium platform for competition and game day experiences, providing numerous playing opportunities each week.  Our comprehensive pathway means teams train alongside each other, fostering a sense of unity and collaboration.

  • Our women’s team compete in the Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL), the highest level of women's basketball in the UK
  • Our men’s Division 1 and Division 3 teams compete in Basketball England’s National Basketball League (NBL) 

In the past eight years, our basketball program has achieved remarkable success and continual growth. Beginning in 2016 as champions of the Basketball England National Cup, we went on to secure the BUCS National Trophy and claim the title of Champions in the Basketball England National League Division 1 in 2017. Building on this momentum, we proudly became BUCS National Champions in 2022, achieving back-to-back victories in the BUCS Premier League from 2018 to 2022.

Did you know...

  1. Most recently Essex Rebels women’s basketball guard, Megan Haines got a call up for Great Britain as they prepared for games against Sweden and Estonia.
  2. Essex Sport Arena, home of the Essex Rebels is the largest spectator arena in the East, consistently setting record attendance on game days, like the incredible 1,505 cheering supporters on International Women’s Day.
  3. Basketball England awarded Essex Rebels the ‘Best Gameday Experience Award’ in 2023

Backing home advantage

Making sure our student-athletes experience a fully supportive environment.

  1. You'll make use of our outstanding facilities including state-of-the-art gym, Human Performance Unit and personalised Strength & Conditioning sessions, as well as the Essex Sport Arena, home of the Essex Rebels professional basketball and volleyball teams.
  2. In September we opened our Performance Analysis and Coaching Room boasting a 100-inch touchscreen TV and sound system. The equipment allows playback of match videos giving coaches the ability to break down and highlight tactical improvements within your game.
  3. Last year we launched the Athlete Village, dedicated accommodation for sports scholars and student-athletes. Located near our sports facilities it’s also a short walk from the lecture theatre building.  

Undergraduate sport scholars: There is a dedicated section within the Athlete Village at our Colchester campus for our undergraduate sports scholars. This is in Frinton Court and application to stay here is managed through our Performance Sport Manager, Susy Davies at

Postgraduate sport scholars: For our international and UK postgraduate sports scholarship students there is exclusive accommodation at our Colchester campus, located in The Meadows and application to stay here is managed through our Performance Sport Manager, Susy Davies at

Essex Rebels Basketball performance pathway

Our programme

Our comprehensive basketball programme is designed to nurture talent and fuel your passion for the sport whilst offering academic support for athletes.

A typical week will entail:

  • Five 2-hour basketball training sessions
  • One BUCS competition fixture
  • One individual Strength & Conditioning session
  • One – two performance analysis film sessions
  • A game at the weekend

Players will also have access to:

  • Daily on-court performance coaching
  • Strength and conditioning coaching
  • Performance analysis
  • Use of our onsite Sports Therapy Clinic
  • Access to campus accommodation
  • Allocated lifestyle advisor
  • Workshop programmes with guidance in psychology and nutrition
  • Complimentary gym membership
  • Access sports science testing
  • Timetables individual / small group workouts 

Basketball scholarships and bursaries 

Basketball scholarship applications for 2024-2025 are now open.

We're on the lookout for student-athletes who are eager to grow, develop, and strive for personal excellence. If you're up for the challenge and meet the academic eligibility criteria, we have generous fee waiver scholarships up to 100%, cash bursaries plus additional support packages available to financially help support your time here with us.

Applicable for high performance undergraduate or postgraduate student athletes playing at elite National Governing Bodies or Federation pathway programmes (Basketball England EABL, WEABL or international equivalent).

Alongside performance coaching, recipients of the Performance Sport Scholarship programme may also receive additional support services package benefits such as free kit, use of facilities and access to a range of support services worth up to of £1,500 per year (details outlined below). Our Performance Sport Scholarship programme has four different tiers:

Scholarship type; Award
Tier 1* Tuition fee discount up to 100%, performance coaching and support services package.
Tier 2 Cash bursary (of varying amounts), performance coaching and support services package (available for undergraduate students only).
Tier 3 Performance coaching and support services package.
Tier 4 25% tuition fee discount  

*Some exceptional athletes in receipt of a tier 1 scholarship may also receive additional financial support.

Under tier 1 of the Performance Sport Scholarship programme, we award a number of tuition fee discounts to students on University of Essex undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research courses.

Basketball Fee discounts for students commencing their studies at Essex in 2024-25 are:

Number of awards Scholarship Award
Up to 8 PG awards for international students (full-time or part-time) Between 50-100% fee discount
Up to 12 UG or PG awards for UK students (full-time or part-time) Between 50-100% fee discount**

Apply now

If you feel like you meet this eligibility please fill in our Sport Scholarship Application Form. If you have any questions about our basketball scholarship programme, please email Performance Sport Manager, Susy Davies at

Details and Deadlines

Focus sport (basketball, volleyball, tennis, football) scholarship application deadline is 31 May 2024.

Individual sport scholarship application deadline is 30 June 2024.

Sports bursaries are offered on a first-come, first-served basis and are linked to successful course applications at the University of Essex. It's crucial to meet the academic entry conditions for your chosen course to be eligible for a sport scholarship.

It's essential to adhere to these deadlines to ensure your eligibility for a sport scholarship at the University of Essex. Applications after this deadline will not be considered.

If you have any further questions or need assistance with the application process, please don't hesitate to email

Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS)

We are proud to be a Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) delivery site. As a Sport England funded partnership between talented athletes, the University of Essex and national governing bodies of sport, we work together to develop the best young talent within the UK.

The TASS Dual Career Accreditation Scheme recognises an education institution’s commitment to dual career support for talented athletes who are in full time education. We are pleased to offer an enhanced level of academic flexibility and understanding to allow our athletes the ability to balance their studies with a demanding but rewarding sporting schedule.

Alongside a playing career, we also have a range of opportunities to support your professional growth, to navigate a path through placements including but not limited to Sports Therapy, Performance Analysis, Sport Science and game day support. 

Meet the coaches

Coach Ashley Cookson has had a globe-trotting 16-year career steering sides in Sweden, Australia and Canada and is determined to bring further success for the Essex Rebels. He joined the University as Head of Basketball Performance in 2023, taking the reins of the Essex Rebels Women’s team to build on a successful season which saw the side set a nationwide attendance record and launch into the playoffs.

Coach Ross Norfolk graduated from the University of Essex with a BA in Sports Management in 2012. With over a decade’s worth of basketball coaching experience, his passion for the Essex Rebels started as a volunteer assistant coach at the birth of the Performance basketball programme back in 2015. Since making his appointment official, the Assistant Basketball Coach and Head Coach of the Essex Rebels Men’s team is hungry to seek out the most talented ballers to reach the top of the NBL divisions whilst driving future talent through the programme’s multi-faceted approach.

Your future 

Sport scholars through our programmes have gone on to personal and academic success, venturing into professional playing contracts, coaching roles and rewarding employment opportunities.

During your time at Essex, seize the chance to elevate your transferable skills. We provide platforms that spotlight your talents for potential employers in the UK. Your journey extends beyond the courts, laying the groundwork for a successful and fulfilling career.

Read about some of the successful athletes, past and present on our Performance Sport Blog.

Life in the Essex Rebels

Darcy Rees, Essex Rebels basketball player
"This scholarship has allowed me to achieve my goal of completing a Master's Degree while still being able to follow my dream of being a professional basketball player. Without this scholarship I would have been forced to pick one dream over the other. I am very grateful for the opportunity to travel the world while still continuing my education and athletic career."
Darcy Rees Essex Rebels Basketball Player and International Scholar.

For more information on our performance basketball programme please contact, or for information on our professional teams please contact, alternatively please call 01206 87 3639/3016.