NASSA celebrates 15 years of its award-winning Carry A Basketball Not A Blade (CABNAB) work

CABNAB Founder Anthony Okereafor

OVER 100 guests were in attendance at London’s City Hall as NASSA celebrated the 15th anniversary of its award-winning CABNAB knife crime awareness initiative.

The ‘Carry A Basketball Not A Blade 15th Anniversary — The Next 100,000’ event showcased talks from some of the young people who have been educated by NASSA on the dangers of knife crime, county lines activity and gang culture since CABNAB was set up in 2008.

The initiative was established by NASSA player Anthony Okereafor after two of his friends were stabbed to death in east London parks within weeks of each other.

Anthony had been playing basketball with NASSA when each incident occurred and realised it could have been him.

CABNAB talks and workshops were developed in partnership with the Metropolitan Police and are now delivered in all NASSA’s club and schools programmes, passing the 100,000 attendances milestone this year.

The need for them was reinforced by Anthony in an impassioned speech about the realities that knife crime continues to present in east London.

Anthony said: “Three young people have died in the past week alone. The number of knife crime incidents went down, but the problem hasn’t gone away as we have seen this week. The need for CABNAB is as strong as ever.”

The City Hall event was attended by local dignitaries, including NASSA Patron Rt Hon Sir Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham, and Jeremy Rees, CEO of ExCeL London.

Members of the east London business community, included several from Canary Wharf, heard speeches from Sir Stephen, London Assembly Committee Member Unmesh Desai, and Darwin Bernardo of the Mayor of London’s Violence Reduction Unit.

NASSA Patron Rt Hon Sir Stephen Timms, MP for East Ham

Former NASSA players Calvin Kintu, Sahara Wilson, Sidney Ekio, Naomi Hart and Ilyas Dar all made speeches acknowledging the role that NASSA played in their development as players, citizens and role models for others.

Jennifer Lauren-Smart, whose son Myles was a NASSA participant for 10 years, also made a heartfelt speech about the force for good that NASSA represents in east London.

Former NASSA player Sahara-Wilson

NASSA volunteer and parent Jennifer Lauren-Smart

Former NASSA player Calvin Kintu

Speaking at the event, NASSA founder and Chief Executive Natasha Hart MBE said: “It really is amazing to see so many people here from all walks of life who have supported and who continue to support NASSA.

“While we are celebrating 15 years of CABNAB, the help and advice it has given so many young people, we must never forget those young people in east London who have lost their lives as a result of knife crime in that time.

“We have to continue our work to reach as many local young people as possible and educate them on the dangers of carrying a knife.”