A talented 13-year-old schoolboy who stands 6ft 6ins tall has become the youngest basketball player to represent England just 18 months after taking up the sport.
Freddie Ratliff only started playing basketball last year after he was talent scouted during a school rugby match.
The teenager was then chosen to represent the England U-15 team after impressing coaches with his athleticism and ball skills.
Freddie now practices every day and hopes his hard work will pay off by allowing him to land a place in the national adult squad.
The schoolboy also hopes to follow in the footsteps of LA Lakers basketball star Theo Ratliff, who shares his surname, and pursue a professional career in America.
Freddie, who only turned 13 on Friday, said: ”I am training loads – for England it is seven hours a day – and I have to keep fit even when the season has finished.
”But despite the hard work I am really enjoying it and I was so proud to play for England. Playing for England is a whole new thing because everybody is amazing.
”I was quite scared at the first England training session and the players were ridiculously good but everyone was really welcoming.
”I was definitely ready for the England match. It was brilliant. My height does help my game but to be good at basketball you need a lot of skill.
”One day I would love to play in the Olympics and I am also considering trying out for a scholarship to an American university.”
Freddie, who lives in Harkstead, Suffolk, and attends Holbrook High School, stands 6ft 6ins tall and has an inside leg of 34ins and size 11 feet.
He was talent scouted during a school rugby match in January last year by Nick Drane, from Ipswich Basketball Academy.
Nick persuaded Freddie to attend basketball classes and after several months he was recommended for the Eastern region team.
He was then picked up by England scouts and catapulted into the England U-15 squad in March this year aged 12.
Because the under-15s are the youngest national basketball squad Freddie has now officially become the youngest player to have represented his country.
He made his debut for the England U-15s on July 3 during a victory against the Wales U-16 basketball team.
Freddie spends at least one hour every day practicing his skills as well as training with his county team mates twice a week.
He inherited his height from his proud parents Louise, 47, and architect Jonathan, 56, who are both 6ft 2ins tall, while his younger brother Charlie, 11, is 5ft 8ins.
Louise said: ”At first the England team said they wouldn’t take Freddie because he was too young but when they saw him again they wanted him for the team.
”It was like a dream come true watching Freddie playing for England. Everyone in the crowd was impressed when they realised he was so young.
”I am immensely proud of him. A scholarship to an American university could happen if things keep going the way they are.”
Freddie hopes to be as successful as LA Lakers basketball star Theo Ratliff, 38, who stands at 6ft 10ins and has 16 years NBA experience.
Coach Nick Drane said: ”Height is useful for Freddie but his best quality is his good work ethic.
”He is a very skilled player and unlike many kids who are tall Freddie is also very athletic.”
England basketball coach Andreas Kapoulas today told how he has been ”impressed” by Freddie and believes that he has a ”bright future” within the game.
He said: ”We were very impressed watching Freddie at the regional tournaments and decided to invite him to train with the U-15 team, despite him being born in 1998.
”He is raw, but he is also young and the potential for a bright future is definitely there.
”The amazing thing is that Freddie is now only 13 and he still has a few years left to grow.
”But there is far more to game than just his height because he is very talented.”