NASSA team creates new video with the Films For All company

Check out this new video on NASSA which was put together by two groups of our young people in partnership with the Films For All company. The video is featured in a new London-wide film called ‘Ignite Your Potential’ that was specially commissioned to feature five projects funded by the Mayor of London’s Young Londoners Fund.


NASSA player Ilyas Dar will be swapping his basketball vest for a college gown this autumn after being accepted into Oxford University.

The 18-year-old from Leyton will study Medicine at Oriel College after passing the prestigious Oxford Entrance Exam.

Ilyas will become the first young person to represent NASSA at Oxford. His journey with NASSA began over six years ago, along with twin brother Kyan.

Born in London of Spanish parentage, when the boys first attended NASSA sessions they were very shy and not particularly physically active.

They have shone ever since, not as basketball players, but as young men dedicated to basketball as a sport in which they can pursue their ambitions. The twins have progressed through the NASSA age group teams and gained valuable sports qualifications in basketball refereeing, officiating and coaching along the way.

In December 2018, Ilyas was named alongside Kyan as the Young Person of the Year at the L&Q Foundation Awards to celebrate their commitment to the NASSA L&Q Junior Coaches Programme.
The twins’ father, Framaz Dar, became a NASSA volunteer and is now an assistant basketball coach having qualified through NASSA.

NASSA Chief Executive Natasha Hart said: “I have seen Ilyas grow into an extremely well-mannered and confident young man. To get into Oxford University is an amazing feat and everyone at NASSA is so proud of him.

“Ilyas has always looked up to older NASSA members and tried to copy their good habits. Now he will serve as an inspiration to the younger NASSA members and show them what is possible in life.”

NASSA London’s Air Ambulance CABNAB For Life Programme

A party of 20 NASSA young people and coaches visited the London Hospital Helipad as part of our collaborative work with London’s Air Ambulance.

The young people were shown around one of the £8million air ambulances and given a talk by a London’s Air Ambulance staff member.

Because of restrictions on the number of people allowed up on the Helipad at any one time, the NASSA party was split into two groups. One group watched on while the ambulance was launched to attend a stabbing victim in south-west London, while the other group saw the ambulance return.

NASSA has been working in partnership with London’s Air Ambulance since the summer of 2019. Specially formulated basketball skills sessions wrap around talks from London’s Air Ambulance Outreach Manager Rhiannon Evans.

She educates the NASSA young people on the work of the emergency services, particularly in relation to victims of knife crime.

NASSA has been working in partnership with London’s Air Ambulance since the summer of 2019. Specially formulated basketball skills sessions wrap around talks from London’s Air Ambulance Outreach Manager Rhiannon Evans.

Guard of Honour to New Flight at London City Airport

THREE young NASSA players enjoyed VIP treatment at London City Airport as they welcomed a new early morning charter flight from the Lithuania capital of Vilnius.

The boys — Alanas Stvolas, 14, Matas Juodeikis, 11, and eight-year-old Tomas Sarakojis were invited to form the reception committee on the tarmac. The trio were chosen because they all have family members who come from Lithuania and because of NASSA’s strong partnership links with London City Airport.

Accompanied by NASSA Chief Executive Natasha Hart MBE and NASSA Head Coach Aurimas Verbukas, who hails from Lithuania himself, they were whisked through airport security and were given a short talk about the new flight.

They welcomed each passenger as they stepped off the flight. Then it was a quick change back into their school uniform and off to lessons for the day. Natasha Hart said: “It was a wonderful experience for the boys and a reward for all the commitment they show both at school and on the basketball court at NASSA.

“They were a credit to NASSA on the day and will no doubt be telling the story of their morning for a long time to come. I would also like to thank their headteachers for allowing the boys to attend this event and showcase NASSA in such a positive light.”

Anthony and Tyrees are named as local heroes

Newham All Star Sports Academy has received the perfect early Christmas present with two members of the NASSA family being recognised as community champions.

Carry A Basketball Not A Blade (CABNAB) creator Anthony Okereafor and player Tyrees Garrod collected their awards on Thursday night at the coveted KeolisAmey Docklands Community Champion Awards 2016.

The awards, which are in their second year, celebrate individuals and groups in the communities served by London’s Docklands Light Railway.

Anthony said: “It is a great feeling to win an award, but we must not forget all of the young people who have lost their lives through knife crime and we have to carry on our work. My dream has always been to spread our CABNAB work all over the country.”

NASSA men’s team player and sports coordinator Anthony collected the Outstanding Service to the Community award for his work promoting NASSA’s CABNAB initiative. Anthony came up with the idea of educating young people on the dangers of knife crime and gang culture in 2008, the year in which two of his friends died in separate knife-related incidents.

Canning Town schoolboy Tyrees was named Young Achiever of the Year category for his stance against bullying. A victim himself in the past, Tyrees now stands up in classes to give anti-bullying talks to pupils of all ages and also offers advice to the younger NASSA members at training sessions.

Tyrees said: “It’s amazing to be given this award. I didn’t set out to win anything. I just wanted to help other people not have the experience that I had.”

From Russia With Love

In what it is hoped will be the first of many visits, NASSA welcomed the Dynamo Moscow basketball club to East London to take part in our annual Carry A Basketball Not A Blade (CABNAB) celebrations.

The Dynamo Under-15s side travelled to the UK with their coach and club officials to face their NASSA counterparts but also on a wider mission to exchange ideas on how basketball can be used to change lives.

The three-day visit also included a special breakfast event on the House of Commons terrace hosted by NASSA patron Rt Hon Stephen Timms, MP for Newham, who then acted as the guide for the Dynamo party on an hour-long tour of the Houses of Parliament.

NASSA Chief Executive Natasha Hart said: “It was an incredible honour to welcome Dynamo Moscow here to NASSA. They are a hugely respected sports club in Russia while we started as little more than a weekly get-together in the local park only 10 years ago.

“But what we have in common is a real desire to make the lives of local young people better through basketball.”

Mr, echoed those sentiments when he insisted how valuable an experience the visit had been for every member of the Dynamo party.

He said: “We expected a lot from this special visit because we know the important role that NASSA plays here in the UK. They not only act as a sports charity and a sports project, they also play a prominent role as a social project which supports the lives of children who don’t always have the best possible conditions in which to grow up and don’t have the best possible chances in life, so they are supported by NASSA and its guardians.

“We were really interested in meeting them and making friends with them. Has NASSA lived up to those expectations? Absolutely.

“NASSA has a broader outlook on children than we do at Dynamo Moscow. We focus on those children whose parents have died while they were serving our country. So, for example, if people in the law enforcement services die, their widows and children are a target of the Dynamo group. We try to support them and secure a better future for these children. NASSA is a wide-ranging organisation which tries to help the children from different kinds of families – children from the street. It tries to keep them from the street.

This is a very interesting partnership for us and we would like to take it forward.”

The friendly match, which offered up a contrast of styles was won by Dynamo 65-33. In spite of the language barrier, players from the two teams mixed freely afterwards, brought together by their love of basketball.

“It’s interesting to meet competitors from top clubs in other countries to compare our level with theirs,” said Alexander, coach of the Dynamo Moscow Under-15s side.

And it’s more important to find something new, something interesting than the result of the game. In today’s game I saw something new that can be implemented in my team. For example, I was watching how motivated the NASSA team was to play and how calm they are when the result is close. They don’t panic, they still play with confidence.

After the game, the NASSA guys were very friendly. They enjoyed the game. That is not always what you see in Russia when they are often disappointed by the result. I was very pleased to see how people behave after the game here.

“It has been a great experience for our guys. For the majority of them it’s their first time visiting London and seeing a different culture. It’s a unique experience for them.”

“This is a very interesting partnership for us and we would like to take it forward.”

The friendly match, which offered up a contrast of styles was won by Dynamo 65-33. In spite of the language barrier, players from the two teams mixed freely afterwards, brought together by their love of basketball.

Knife Crime Fatality Rate In Newham Drops

Knife Crime Fatality Rate Among Young People In Newham Drops To Zero as CABNAB Initiative Celebrates Its 7th Anniversary.

Newham All Star Sports Academy’s (NASSA) fight against knife crime has won a major victory with Metropolitan Police figures showing that no young person lost their life in the London Borough of Newham as a result of knife crime in the past 12 months.

NASSA’s contribution to this remarkable statistic is its Carry A Basketball Not A Blade (CABNAB) initiative which this week celebrated its seventh anniversary with a special event at the University of East London’s SportsDock building.

The CABNAB project, run by the successful basketball charity, educates 2,000 schoolchildren in Newham each week on the dangers of carrying a knife and belonging to a gang. Its message is spread in 65 schools and colleges across the Borough.

Anthony Okereafor, a NASSA player who saw two friends die in separate incidents as a result of knife crime in 2008, welcomed the new figures but insisted that the fight against knife crime is far from won.

“It is wonderful news that no young person has lost his or her life in Newham through knife crime in the past year and that no family has had to endure the heartache that follows such a tragic event. But we have to keep working and educating young people so that no young person dies as a result of knife crime in the next 12 months, and each year that follows.”

The CABNAB event featured an annual challenge basketball match between a NASSA select side and a team of Metropolitan Police officers.

It was attended by University of East London (UEL) Vice-Chancellor John Joughin. He said: “NASSA is a fantastic initiative. It is obviously having an impact in the community in a positive way.

“UEL is all about working with the community in civic engagement so working in partnership on projects like this is absolutely the thing we aim to do. We are very proud of our association with NASSA.”

Natasha Hart, MBE by Royal Appointment!

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. Read more here.

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.”

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.”

NASSA Founder Carries Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics Torch

NASSA founder Natasha Hart passed over the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics Flame in London’s Trafalgar Square yesterday.

Accompanied by British Paralympic Association Chairman Tim Reddish, Natasha held the Paralympic Torch aloft on a specially constructed stage in front of 8,000 people as part of the annual Russian ‘Maslenitsa’ festival.

The Torch was then handed over to be flown over to Sochi where it will light the official Paralympic Flame at the opening ceremony of the Winter Paralympics this Friday, March 9, 2014.

Natasha, who was born near to the city of Sochi in her native Russia, was chosen because of her work with NASSA helping young people in East London.

“It was an amazing experience, such an honour for me being Russian by birth.”

Natasha Hart MBE
Founder and Chief Executive