Helping to eradicate knife crime in London

In 2008, NASSA set up a campaign entitled ‘Carry a Basketball, Not a Blade’ — CABNAB for short. It was created by NASSA player Anthony Okereafor after the sudden and tragic death of two of his friends from knife crime within weeks of each other.

Anthony wanted to do something to tackle the growing issues of knife crime, gang activity and anti-social behaviour.

CABNAB is an education programme alerting young people to the dangers of knife crime. The education element is fitted into the basketball sessions, many times through question and answer sessions. It has the full backing of the Metropolitan Police and reaches over 3,000 children and young people in Newham each year. In 2023, this figure was over 4,000 children and young people.

It is not just about stopping people carrying knives, it’s about saving lives.

Each year, NASSA hosts a CABNAB anniversary event, which symbolically includes a match between a Met Police team and a NASSA team to show the strength of working together in the community. The match is preceded by a minute’s silence and the poignant shooting of a basketball hoop for every young life lost as a direct result of knife crime in the London Borough of Newham over the previous year.


— is about giving young people opportunities, creating role models and developing future leaders.
— aims to engage young people, allowing them to participate in a sport that helps them to develop both physically and socially.
— encourages the youth of today from the ages of 8 upwards to be team players and play competitively, whilst learning from NASSA coaches and the Metropolitan Police about the grim statistics and consequences of knife crime.

CABNAB helped to contribute to a significant reduction in knife crime. Consider these milestones:

In 2013, the Borough of Newham reported a 46% reduction in serious youth violence and gang-related crime

In the 12 months to August 2013, 11 young people lost their lives in Newham as a result of knife crime

In the 12 months to August 2014, six young people lost their lives in Newham as a result of knife crime

In the 12 months to August 2015, no young person lost his or her life in Newham as a result of knife crime

“It’s all about breaking down divisions between youngsters from different postcodes and between youngsters and the police. Too many young people are dying just because they happen to walk into the ‘wrong’ area. The players involved in the project attend workshops that look at various topics, such as the consequences of being involved in knife crime, how to deal with peer pressure and the importance of taking responsibility for your actions. If we can get to the youth of today before they slip into gangs or are involved in gang culture itself, and get them to do something positive and constructive like basketball, the impact will be a life with great prospects and positivity. To change just one young life is an achievement, but to inspire many is a success. This scheme has shown it works.”

Anthony Okereafor, CABNAB creator

Recognition from 10 Downing Street

January 7, 2015 — Newham All Star Sports Academy (NASSA) player Antony Okereafor has received an award from the Prime Minister for his work in using basketball to combat knife crime.

He has been named a Point of Light by the Rt Hon David Cameron for the Carry A Basketball Not A Blade (CABNAB) campaign he established in 2008 after two of his friends were stabbed to death within weeks of each other.

In a letter to Anthony, the Prime Minister wrote: “Sport has a fantastic power to change lives. By founding Carry A Basketball Not A Blade you have given young people a safe place to be and are raising awareness of the dangers they face if they choose to carry a knife.

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CABNAB workshops

CABNAB workshops are tailored to the age group of the participants.


If you want to arrange a CABNAB workshop in your school or college, or you want to know more about NASSA’s CABNAB ambassadors programme through we which we can train people in your school or college to deliver CABNAB workshops, please contact Natasha Hart on 07947 401616.

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