NASSA - Newham All Starts Sports Academy
Newham All Star Sports Academy (NASSA) has become part of Newham’s fabric since it was formed in 2006 by Natasha Hart MBE. It was set up to provide a safe haven in which young people could play basketball socially and competitively in a positive, fun environment. Its growth in size and impact led to it being named overall Charity of the Year at The Charity Awards 2014.
Where NASSA differs from many other basketball clubs is in the mentoring support it offers to its young people to increase their awareness of the dangers of knife crime and gang culture.These dangers are very real.
In 2008, two friends of NASSA player Anthony Okereafor were stabbed to death in separate incidents. Anthony wanted to do something to prevent more young lives being lost and families devastated. The Carry A Basketball Not A Blade (CABNAB) initiative educates local young people on the dangers of knife crime and gang culture.
NASSA’s extra-curricular basketball sessions reach more than 2,000 young people every week in over 70 schools and colleges. CABNAB has the full support and backing of the Metropolitan Police whose Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe presented NASSA with a special award for services to the local community in 2014.
Official Metropolitan Police figures show the startling and necessary progress made in combatting knife crime in Newham in recent years. In the 12 months to August 2013, while serious youth violence and knife-related crime in Newham dropped by 46%, still 11 young people in Newham lost their lives as a direct result of knife crime. In the following 12 months, six young people died in this manner. The most recent figures show that in the 12 months to August 2015, not one young person lost his or her life in Newham as a direct result of knife crime. NASSA, through CABNAB, has contributed to this positive progression. The 11-year-olds who were educated by NASSA in 2008 are now 18. The 16-year-olds are now 23.
In addition to its school-based sessions, NASSA runs a basketball club programme for those young people who want to pursue the sport competitively, as well as a wheelchair basketball programme for disabled participants in partnership with London City Airport. Through the L&Q Housing Foundation, NASSA’s new Junior Community Coaches programme is enabling young people across east London to gain officially recognised sports coaching qualifications and valuable experience in the community sports field.
NASSA is nothing without its people. CABNAB creator Anthony Okeareafor was recognised in January 2015 by The Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron as one of the UK’s ‘Points of Light’. For his work in mentoring and inspiring the NASSA young people, NASSA Head Coach Chris Facey was named UK Community Coach of the Year 2014 at the UK Coaching Awards 2014.
Above all, NASSA is proud of its own and Newham’s diversity. Across the club and schools programmes, its 587 Basketball England-registered playing members speak a total of 151 different languages and dialects.