“We want to create great basketball players but more than that we want to make good citizens.”
June 12, 2015 – Natasha Hart, founder and chief executive of Newham All Star Sports Academy (NASSA), has been made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to Sport in East London.
In the 10 years since Natasha took her sons to Balaam Park to teach them basketball, NASSA has become one of the most successful and caring basketball clubs in the country.Established as a charity in 2006 with just £20 in the bank, NASSA has made a huge impact on community sport in east London. It was the first basketball club in London to be awarded 5-star Club Mark status by Basketball England, while NASSA teams have won 16 National League titles since 2007.
Natasha’s aim has always been to produce good citizens as much as great basketball players. The mentoring talks delivered by NASSA coaches under our Carry A Basketball Not A Blade (CABNAB) initiative have educated 2,000 young people every week about the dangers of knife crime and gang culture.
Natasha moved to east London from her native Russia 25 years ago and holds the unique distinction of having carried torches at consecutive Olympiads. She carried the Olympic Torch for the London 2012 Games and was then chosen to carry the Paralympic Torch ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.
On being awarded the MBE, Natasha said: “I’m bursting with pride. This is beyond anything I could ever have imagined. I was truly shocked when I opened the letter to tell me about the honour. I am so grateful.
“It was the farthest thing from my mind when I took my sons to the local park to show them basketball, the game I love, ten years ago. I just wanted to give them and their friends somewhere to play in a safe environment and something to look forward to each week.
“I want to personally thank everybody in the NASSA family for all of their hard work and dedication. If I could, I would share this honour with everyone in the NASSA family because the players, the parents, the coaches, the volunteers, they all deserve it.”