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leaders of unites #16 charlotte naus

When I think back to my first game in the League, I was so incredibly nervous
My name is Charlotte Naus, and I am 19 years old. I come from Beusichem, which is a small village near Utrecht. I am currently studying applied mathematics and I play at Cangeroes in Utrecht in ladies 2 and 1, in the promotion division and the Dutch Basketball League. When I think back to my first game in the League, I was so incredibly nervous! That was mainly because everything had gone pretty fast before that. In 3 years, I suddenly played women's basketball league.

I first played ladies 1rst and men U20 2nd regional division, but then I took part in the selection for under 18 2nd division nationwide, on the off chance that I would make it. I was about 16 years old at the time and interestingly enough, they really wanted me. However, for me, it did not feel good enough, I was not going to leave my own team for this. Next to us, the selection training for u20 in the Dutch Basketball League was playing and I was bold enough to ask if I could participate. It went fine, but I did not expect much until I got a call from the coach. They wanted me on the team! It was pretty unreal, but really cool. Unfortunately, we did not win a single game that season, but at the end of the season there was a sense of assurance in me. I can do this, I belong, and I do not have to doubt myself anymore.

As the only girl in a boys' team, I had to give it my all!
I started playing basketball in the 6th grade, at the age of nine. A girl from my class was already playing basketball, so I played along with her once and I was very excited! I could immediately join the girls under 14 and soon I joined a selection training at U-Ball. I played at U-Ball and Archipel for two years. I trained at least 4 times a week and my family and I spared no effort for my improvement. I would go to high school in Utrecht, so that I could combine my basketball with my education there. However, suddenly that dream fell apart. They abruptly said that I was too small for the sport. I would never be able to play basketball at a high level, so I no longer had to come to Utrecht. That was a big blow. I was in the 8th grade and I thought I knew what the next few years of my life would look like, but then all of a sudden that dream was shattered. I had to attend a different school, go back to the regional club and my self-confidence had disappeared.

At that point it felt like I had failed. Not only myself, but also my parents. They had invested a lot of time and effort in me. Once back at the regional club, I really had to flip the switch. As the only girl in the boys' team, I decided that I really had to give it my all! And I did. In the beginning this was very strange, but slowly we became a kind of family and I had a team full of big brothers. Being the only girl to play with and against boys 2 years older is quite a challenge. You must prove yourself to your own team and you are often underestimated by your opponent. They are afraid to try their best so that they do not lose to a girl. But these experiences shaped me into the player and person I am today and look where it got me!

I am discovering what 3X3 Unites has to offer
When 3X3 as a sport came into my life, I could suddenly enjoy myself a lot more on the field. The many rules of 5 against 5 disappeared. I no longer had to play by the book and therefore I allowed myself to think less. In 3X3 I can completely lose myself. No rules, a short shot clock, so you have to go all out. That way of playing was incredibly liberating for me! We were pretty good as a team too! We came third in the Netherlands under 18 and even second in the Belgian championship.

Since the summer of 2020 I have been a Leader at 3X3 Unites. At first, they caught my attention because of their collaboration with Nike and the initiative to pay more attention to girls who play basketball. I found the first lesson of the Leader Course very daunting, but soon I felt comfortable. The other girls, but also Bas Rozendaal as the teacher of the Leader Course, quickly gave me a feeling of familiarity and safety.

At the moment, I am mainly working on a newly started project in Utrecht. I think Utrecht is a very good match for 3X3 Unites. It is the center of the Netherlands and therefore very accessible to many places around it. It is also a very social city, where people like to come together. Everyone is very enthusiastic, and we even had full courts in January! As a Leader at 3X3 Unites I realized how much fun it can be to enthuse young people by means of 3X3. Not only the basketball players themselves, but also the ones who do not know the sport very well. 3X3 Unites offers many possibilities and I am discovering them more and more. I also have a lot of ideas myself and I really get the opportunity to share them, develop them and to challenge myself.

Women's basketball is worth it
It may sound a bit silly, but one dream of mine is to make the world a better place. My gut tells me that can make the world a bit better. I think there are many problems in the world, and I feel a kind of urge to really leave something behind for the next generation. How? I still have to figure that out, but I know I would like to tackle it on a large scale. I am not easily satisfied, so that will be a challenge!

I would also really like to make a difference within basketball and bring more inclusivity to the game. I personally think it is useful for men and women to play together more. The stigma surrounding women's basketball, that it is boring and bad, also affects me enormously. It makes me angry. I want to show the world that it is worth it and 3X3 Unites helps me enormously with that. Women are a big part of the sport and not the laughingstock of the community. I wish boys and men would not be afraid of losing to a woman, but that they just keep doing their best and keep playing until the final whistle.