'I feel like I've finally made it' - Basketball star Harriet to become pro
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk basketball star Harriet Welham is set to leave the county after securing a professional deal in the game in France.
Ms Welham, from Bury St Edmunds, has spent the last 11 years playing for Ipswich who play in the top women's league, the National Basketball League Division 1.
Now, however she is set to move across the channel where she has secured her first professional deal with third tier team Besancon Basket Club.
Signing a professional contract for the first time is a dream come true for Ms Welham who has previously been named national player of the year twice.
"It means everything really," said Ms Welham.
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"For me I feel like I have finally made it."
For Ms Welham, now felt like the perfect time to get started.
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"I've done everything I needed to in Ipswich," said Ms Welham.
"Created a sturdy women's team for them to follow, for them to win trophies and all that.
"For me it seemed like the perfect time to head off and push myself a little bit more.
"It's definitely going to be a big step outside my comfort zone but I definitely needed to do it."
Basketball is extremely popular in France, and is one of the top women's sports in the country.
Ms Welham's new club are an ambitious side who have recently re-branded and are aiming for promotion.
"Their view for the season is to get promoted straight away and get into league two," said Ms Welham.
"The fact they have recruited me to try and get into league two is quite cool.
"We will see how far we can keep climbing."
Outside of the game itself the move will mean that Ms Welham will spend at least the next two years living in France.
"I don't know any French, I'm relying on Google translate," said Ms Welham.
"I'm hoping that they speak a bit more English than I do French."
Ms Welham says that the implications of her new contract extend further than to simply her.
"It's something new," said Ms Welham.
"We've never had a player that has gone and played pro for the younger ones to look up to and be like I can actually get paid to play basketball that's quite a good thing.
"The fact that this can be realistic for our under 16 girls that can be a motivation."