June 1, 2015 – Visiting the Kensington residence of the Russian Ambassador to Britain was a world away from their daily lives for 40 young people, parents and coaches of Newham All Star Sports Academy this week.
Suited, booted and keen to impress, the 40-strong NASSA party was hosted by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko as part of his commitment to the work done by NASSA founder Natasha Hart, who moved to the UK from her native Russia 25 years ago.
Mr Yakovenko laid on a guided tour of the residence, which has hosted heads of state, including former Prime Ministers Harold MacMillan and Sir Winston Churchill. The NASSA guests were then treated to a Russian tea party.
Players on NASSA’s Under-14s National League team received their 2014-15 league winners’ certificates from Mr Sergey Nalobin, Counsellor for Bilateral Relations at the Russian Embassy. Those Under-18s present received their 2014-15 league runner-up certificates.
In return, Mr Yakovenko was given a NASSA basketball jersey signed by all of the players in the NASSA delegation.
Natasha Hart said: “It was an amazing experience for everyone from NASSA and I want to say a huge public thank you to Mr. Yakovenko for the kind invitation.
“Our young people at NASSA are called All Stars for a reason – for their dedication to basketball, their schoolwork and to the causes they support like our anti-knife crime initiative CABNAB and anti-bullying. One of the great joys I have is being able to give them experiences like this as a reward.”