November 20, 2014 – Everybody at NASSA already knew about our amazing Head Coach Chris Facey and now the whole of Britain does, too, after he was last night named as the Community Coach of the Year at the UK Coaching Awards 2014.
Chris received his trophy from HRH Princess Anne, The Princess Royal in front of the UK’s leading sports coaches at the City Chambers in Glasgow on Wednesday evening.
He later returned to the stage and was given a standing ovation as he picked up a special runner-up trophy in the overall Coach of Year category, beaten only by Gary Street, who led England to their Women’s Rugby Union World Cup triumph.
The UK Coaching Awards are the country’s most prestigious coaching awards and Chris, whose first name is actually Kelvin although he is universally known as Coach Chris, was both shocked and humbled to be recognised by his peers.
“I didn’t think I was anywhere close to winning the award,” he said. “They called out my name and I didn’t hear it really. It was called out two or three times and I said: ‘Me?’ I was very emotional. I don’t know how I held myself together. Community Coach of the Year in the UK? I wasn’t trying to run in any race, I was just given a job to do. And I realised that if I wanted to better the kids, I had to better myself in a certain way. I’m overjoyed and I’m coming back to work even harder now.
“As a community coach you have to work hard like any young man but you also have got to have some kind of passion and just love what you do. There is not too much money in being a community sports coach but passion is what you need to teach.
“It was a special evening. I loved sharing my thoughts with the other coaches and hearing theirs. And I got a chance to shake a royal hand, too. Meeting Princess Anne was so great. I couldn’t have imagined ever having a conversation with her, but she gave me this amazing smile and I felt like I had known her from yesterday. She just asked me to keep pushing myself. I felt very comfortable talking to her and I invited her to come and see what we do at NASSA and the kind of kids we have here. She told me she would love to if it can be arranged.”
For most of NASSA’s 100 club members, Chris is NASSA. He coaches them basketball skills and mentors them through their teenage years in one of London’s most deprived boroughs. He is passionate about their commitment to school work, gives the NASSA young people the drive to get extra qualifications at school and broadens their horizons.
NASSA player Sidney Ekio said: “We’ve had a lot of deep chats and I feel like Coach Chris isn’t really my coach, he’s more of a family member, somebody that I look up to and really respect. He’s an extremely good basketball coach as well. I’ve played under a few coaches, at regional level and for England and I haven’t come across another coach who has got his experience or his people skills. He’s able to put across a complex idea in a very simple way whereby everyone on the team, whatever their ability, can capture it instantly and work with it.”
The parents of the NASSA young people are just as grateful to Chris for the influence he has had on their children.
“Chris doesn’t just talk about basketball to the kids, he talks to them about life. That is the difference between him and other coaches,” said Jenny Mendioro. “Coach Chris has the patience to teach the kids basketball on the court and behaviour off it. I know that my son is being mentored by someone who can teach him how to be a good man.”
Another NASSA parent Marina Gunn is equally effusive in her praise for Chris. She said: “What Chris does as a coach that no-one else does is gives himself. Young people want to play basketball because of him. He treats every kid as his own. He prioritises schoolwork and being respectful to your parents over basketball. That’s the greatest thing of all because not every kid is going to play in the NBA, but he tries to get them to have an education. He lives and breathes it all. He’s absolutely fantastic.”
Read Chris’s story here.