Student shows sports and learning has no limits

Tue, 15 Dec 2020 16:19:00 GMT
There have already been 12-15 mentors recruited, including former Olympians
There have already been 12-15 mentors recruited, including former Olympians

A GCU student is bringing his successful basketball programme across the Atlantic Ocean to help inspire a generation of children in the UK.

MSc Physiotherapy student Kevin Wilson is the founder of the National Basketball Youth Mentorship Programme (NBYMP) back in his native Toronto and has helped provide both personal and sporting support to 1,500 individuals under the age of 19 over the last two years.

Now Kevin wants to bring the same opportunities to young people in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

He explained: “Through studying at GCU and my other connections, I was able to work with the Glasgow Rocks and the Scottish U16 Men’s National Team. I started to think about the idea of bringing the NBYMP here because I recognised it could be replicated and figured it made a lot of sense.

In addition to on court basketball training, there will be services in psychology, financial literacy, nutrition, athletic development, academic empowerment and spiritual development. We’re also looking to get involved with a University grant programme as well.”

While the world still finds itself gripped by coronavirus there remain obvious challenges for Kevin and his team to deliver the programme. However, he has a plan in place, thanks in part to a host of UK basketball stars willingness to get involved - including; Kieron Achara, Myles Hesson, Johannah Leedham, Rachael Vanderwal and Ali Fraser.

Kevin said: “In the immediate future it’ll be virtual mentorship online from the athletes and thanks to technology the kids will also have access to the services. The plan would be that early next year we’ll do an on-court large scale event.”

He added: “Currently, we have 12-15 confirmed mentors and the majority of them play for the Great Britain national team. The idea is that they will support young people from their areas and help take them through the programme.

There are also a few people in Ireland that I’ve spoken to and currently the missing piece would be in Wales but the plan is to make sure we get that and are represented in all the countries.”

The commitment Kevin has shown to developing young people on and off the court was recognised in 2020 when he was named one of the “Top 20 Outstanding Black Men in Canada” by SHIFTER magazine.

Kevin admits he is delighted with the progress of NBYMP but now wants to take it to the next level by helping young people and simultaneously elevating basketball’s popularity here in the UK.

He said: “There are guys like Luol Deng and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, who have grown up in the UK and  played at the highest level in the NBA. There are also female basketball players, such as Kristine Anigwe, playing in the WNBA. So, there’s no doubt the sport is growing with individuals like that acting as role models.

At grassroots level, when I was working with Basketball Scotland, their U16 team was extremely talented but they were just missing those additional resources to take them to the next level. That’s where I’m hoping NBYMP can help provide some of the holistic services to help improve that.”

Kevin added: “I’m very proud of how the programme has developed. I don’t think mentorship or the services we provide should be confined to one area - I think it should be received globally. So, for us to be able to expand to the UK is extremely exciting.”

You can find out more about the UK version of NBYMP by visiting their website or follow them on Twitter and Facebook


By Ross Clark
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