Oscar Ruiz is a basketball player from France who seized his opportunity to improve on his education and basketball skills. Having ‘hooped’ since he was four or five years old, it was obvious that basketball was the road down which Oscar would travel, it certainly was likely given his family’s involvement.
“My whole family was playing basketball so naturally, I grew up with it. I would say it’s in my genes.”
Oscar has played at the highest youth national level in France which has served him well as he continued to play to a high level as he progressed in his career.
“My main advantage was that from 15 to 18 I was in a basketball academy. I was playing at the youth national level. I was at the highest level you could play at that age.”
Oscar has spent one and a half years in the UK, initially coming over here to spend time as an Au Pair, looking after two children aged 4 and 6. It was here that he got his first taste of the UK: “It was my gap year so I was already in London and I fell in love with the UK.”
It was then that a friend of his at the University of Newcastle contacted him, saying his coach was looking for players.
“For a reason I can’t remember, I couldn’t go to Newcastle but the coach gave my number to another coach who turned out to be the coach at the University of Derby.”
It was a perfect match as Ruiz and Dan Watts, the Derby coach, hit it off immediately and that was the start of the journey for Oscar.
“We got along really well together, and he got me to come to the UK, that’s why I’m here now.”
As with any university application, it was a stressful time for Oscar, “everything was a bit last minute” he said. “I applied in June or July and university started in September.”
“It was stressful but simple because I had to fill in a form. I had my basketball references, what I achieved as a player…a lot of information but it was simple.”
Oscar wanted to use his skills to further himself and get the best education possible, however, basketball was always a priority for Ruiz, 23.
“I chose the scholarship option because Derby was my only contact I had and the only university I applied for…After I chose the scholarship, I had a closer look into the classes.” Oscar currently studies a Master’s degree in Marketing Management with a goal to become “a Marketer or Manage Communications for the NBA (USA’s professional basketball League).”
An interesting note is that Oscar studies his degree part-time, so if any applicants want to focus on their sports more than full-time study would allow, then part-time scholarships are available.
“I made this choice because my English was not perfect, it still isn’t perfect. So I thought that would help me.”
However, due to the circumstances the UK found itself in come September 2020, all organised sports at the university level had been cancelled for the time being. This meant that Oscar could not properly integrate with his new squad.
“It was really hard because I couldn’t train, I couldn’t socialise or experience as much as I’d have liked to. Fortunately, I have my second year at university.” After a prolonged hiatus from the sport, Oscar had some worries about the lack of training he has had and its effect on his match sharpness.
“I’m a bit worried, I know I’m in shape physically, but I think I will need some time to get back to my full capacity.”
Having not played a game of basketball in the UK at that point, Oscar reflected on the differences and similarities he had noticed from what he had seen in the UK and his own experience in France.
“The game is a bit more rough here in the UK and a bit more athletic. Whereas in France, they focus more on basketball IQ and ball movement…two different games but I feel I can find a good balance, you just have to step up the intensity.”
“The perfect mix is to step up the intensity but keep that French mentality.”
Oscar has truly fallen in love with the city and has settled in nicely so far. When asked what he thought about Derby as a university and city; Oscar was not found wanting for a kind word about either.
“The university is brand new so everything is really modern. The gym is amazing…the facilities are too. Derby as a city is great too; it has so many parks and a small city centre etc.”
When asked specifically about his degree Ruiz was very enthusiastic about the Master’s programme was studying.
“ I love it, it’s really concrete…you can be creative and do some research at the same time.”
We put it to Oscar to summarise why Derby University was a great place for a student athlete to study and continue their career;
“I really feel supported by the coaching staff, the facilities are amazing and you have access to strength and conditioning sessions made for you by the personal coaches… you also have access to a mental health coach if you don’t feel ok…There will always be someone for you, you’ll never feel alone. I really enjoyed sharing my experience. I really hope it will help someone come to the UK because I really don’t regret my choice of coming here. I really hope I can give this chance to someone else.”
If you enjoyed Oscar’s story and want to know more about obtaining an athletic scholarship in the UK, then feel free to contact us via our website: www.okstudent.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org