This weekend sees one of the most familiar faces on the Newcastle College campus take time out to lead his country — from a Covid-secure bubble in France!
Marc Steutel is best known to the majority of students in his role as a Higher Education Curriculum Leader for Sports and Uniformed Public Services.
But many don't know that he is also the acting head coach of the Great Britain senior men’s basketball squad.
And Marc leads the nation into battle this weekend, playing against France on Fridayand Montenegro on Sunday, on the road to Eurobasket — the 2022 European Championships.
“We arrived in the French city of Pau on Monday and we’ve been practicing all week,” he said. “Everyone had to pass two Covid tests before they could board the plane for France and we’re operating within a very safe environment.
“France are the sixth best team in the world right now so we’ll have our work cut out. But I’ve got a great group of players who are exceptionally proud to represent their country.”
Marc is taking charge of a 14-strong squad with players drafted in from clubs as far afield as Turkey, Israel and Spain.
The cream of British basketball defeated Germany at the Eagles Community Arena earlier this year to throw their qualifying group wide open. But Marc has since added Newcastle Eagles’ Rex Pflueger to his roster to strengthen the North East presence within FIBA’s French bubble.
“Rex has been on the GB radar for some time now,” he added. “He has been on our database for a long time and we watched his college career at Notre Dame very closely.
“He’s been in contention for a senior call-up since then. When he signed for Newcastle in the summer everyone involved with GB was delighted.”
Back home Marc has been working around the clock alongside fellow staff to ensure sports students at the College can continue to stay active during the coronavirus pandemic. For group sports, temperature checks are carried out before all sessions, equipment is continuously sanitised and bibs are quarantined for a week after use.
All changing facilities and fountains remain out of use across the college, although the gym and sports facilities have remained open to ensure students can continue their education.
Check out sports courses on offer at Newcastle College.