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Basketball not blades

193. Anthony Okereafor

A sports enthusiast from Newham who uses basketball to educate thousands of young people about knife crime after losing a close friend as a teenager.

Anthony Okereafor, 23, has for the last six years educated over 15,000 young people about the impact of knife crime –through his basketball club. His campaign Carry a Basketball, Not a Blade (CABNAB) has seen Anthony engage with over 86 schools and colleges in Newham and east London in his mission to end knife crime. Anthony also runs Friday night basketball sessions attended each week for over 100 young people aged 11-18 in his community and has formed close links with the Metropolitan Police who often pay the club a visit to deliver presentations on the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife.

Anthony was inspired to create CABNAB by the loss of a close friend to knife crime when he was a teenager. The incident happened on a Friday night, which is why Anthony holds CABNAB sessions every Friday, offering young people a safe environment where they can freely interact with their peers. Anthony combines his volunteering work with a full time job as Head of Sport for Newham All Star Sports Academy (NASSA), and uses his professional coaching skills to encourage young people to improve their confidence and team working for the benefit of the whole community.

Anthony’s campaign has attracted a number of influential supporters including local MP Stephen Timms and other London boroughs including Hackney, Dagenham and Tower Hamlets have invited Anthony to run CABNAB workshops and events for young people.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Anthony saw the power sport can have to change lives and founded ‘Carry A Basketball Not A Blade’ to give young people a safe place to be and raise awareness of the dangers of carrying a knife. Thanks to his campaign, Anthony is helping to keep the community strong in Newham and is inspiring young people to lead more positive lives. I am delighted to name him a Point of Light.”

Anthony said:

“Too many young people are dying just because they happen to walk into the ‘wrong’ area. If we can get to the youth of today before they slip into gangs or are involved in gang culture itself, getting them to do something positive and constructive like basketball, the impact will be lives with great prospects.

“To change just one young life is an achievement. CABNAB has inspired many.

“It is amazing and very humbling to receive this award from the Prime Minister but it really belongs to everyone at Newham All Star Sports Academy (NASSA) for their commitment to our young people.”

Stephen Timms MP said:

“I warmly congratulate Anthony on his well deserved award.  ‘Carry A Basketball, Not a Blade’ has been a very important campaign in our community.  Its helping to point young people towards positive opportunities in sport, increasing their chances in the future of taking full advantage of the growing opportunities on the east side of London.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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