Recognition from 10 Downing Street

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. You have engaged an impressive number of young people and schools in your important campaign.

“I believe it is my duty as Prime Minister to hold up examples of great volunteering and service as an inspiration to others. Through your hard work and dedication you are making our communities stronger and our country a better place. On behalf of the whole country, I hope this Points of Light Award can be a small way of saying thank you.”

Over the past six years, the unique CABNAB sessions, which incorporate mentoring talks from NASSA coaches about the dangers of knife crime and gang culture, have reached 15,000 young people across east London.

Anthony and NASSA have also formed close links with the Metropolitan Police office. Police officers regularly visit the club to deliver presentations to the young people on the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife.

Through NASSA, Anthony has rolled out his campaign to the neighbouring London Boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Redbridge and Waltham Forest. In the next few years he is looking to take turn CABNAB into a national campaign.

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 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.”