NASSA receives minibus from Dennis and a visit from the Russian Ambassador

In the tenth anniversary year of its first informal basketball session in an east London park, Newham All Star Sports Academy (NASSA) has received its first minibus, from former Chelsea and England footballer Dennis Wise on behalf of the Dennis Wise and Frankham Consultancy Group Trust.

The 17-seater vehicle will be used to transport NASSA’s seven age group teams to away Basketball England National League fixtures. It will also be used to help support disabled young people who attend NASSA’s inclusive wheelchair basketball sessions.

With many of NASSA’s 100 club members in attendance, as well as NASSA founder and Chief Executive Natasha Hart and Head Coach Chris Facey, the presentation of the minibus was made at the University of East London’s SportsDock building. The ribbon was cut by a special invitee to the event, the Russian Ambassador to the UK, Mr Alexander Yakovenko.

Dennis Wise said the choice of NASSA as recipients of a minibus marked a departure from the Trust’s usual policy, but added that the east London welcome he and his fellow trustees Steve Frankham and Becky Bosman had received from the NASSA coaches, parents and players confirmed to them that they had made the right decision.

He said: “Everything we do is for kids, so that was an important factor. We normally donate minibuses to special needs kids and Down’s Syndrome kids, but we know that Natasha has been trying for a long, long time to help the situation at NASSA.

“As a group, we looked at it and we felt it was a good cause. Coming here today, seeing the bus and all of the kids, as well as seeing Chris the coach, who’s fantastic, you can see it’s going to be a worthy cause. We’re really pleased that we have done this today. Good luck to them all.

“It’s lovely to be part of the NASSA family now. Natasha’s invited us to come back in September for their 10-year anniversary event. If I’m around, I’d love to pop back to say ‘Hi’ and make sure that there are no dents in the bus!”

Natasha Hart added: “We cannot say thank you enough to Dennis, Steve and everyone at the Frankham Group Charitable Trust. This minibus will make a huge difference to NASSA and to all of the players’ parents who have spent so much money over the years helping us take the teams to games.

“It is a really special feeling that they thought of us as worthy of receiving one of their minibuses and we will always have a smile on our faces when we see their name on it.”

Mr Yakovenko said: “It’s a great pleasure for me to be a guest at this very special event today. Team sports are all about uniting people regardless of their religion and race and the Newham All Star Sports Academy (NASSA) is a perfect example of a charity that does just that.

“Having won all the existing awards in this sport, the Newham All Star Sports Academy has been hugely successful, and most importantly, it has played a transformational role in the lives of local young people, providing high-quality community service in East London.

“NASSA’s trainees not only achieve athletic excellence but what is equally important, practice teamwork and understanding. They learn how to surpass themselves and how to win, how to think big and put their dreams into reality. These invaluable lessons in life will surely secure a better future for every young person involved. As a diplomat, I can fully appreciate the importance of this charity’s truly inspirational activity and I am especially proud to know that Ms Natasha Hart its founder and leader, is my compatriot.”

NASSA plays its home games at SportsDock as part of its community partnership with the University of East London (UEL). David Cosford, Director of Sport at UEL, said: “Today has been another milestone event. NASSA has been a great supporter of our institution and without NASSA’s commitment, our SportsDock home would not be the facility it is today. I hope that we can enjoy another 10 years of sporting success together.”