Newham Year of the Young Person: Basketball builds communities

Kebream Blackman shows off his basketball skills

Kebream Blackman, 21, - Credit: Venetta Edwards

Can a ball help change the world? This question was asked at a world economic forum many years ago, where academics, politicians, business, youth and civil society leaders discussed global questions.

While it was seen as asking too much of a ball, the fact is, for generations the humble basketball has brought communities together, been the reason for establishing clubs, as well as supported team work, leadership, confidence and strategic skills among players.

Considering this question locally, youth workers Joshua Anyanwu, a qualified sports coach, and photographer Venetta Edwards - both members of Newham Council’s Bright Futures detached street team - suggest basketball is without a doubt promoting positive development among young people in the borough.

Venetta said: “About six months ago, Joshua and I did some research to find out about young people’s needs, so we walked Newham streets, bouncing a ball as we went.”

They learned the young people they met along the way were united in their interest to play basketball and wished for an indoor court.

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Three months later, with support from the mayor, Joshua and Venetta were offering basketball training at the Carpenter & Docklands Community Centre. It was an overnight success, and their basketball offering, called Detached Diamonds, now attracts a range of age groups.

Daria Viorica Biris shoots a basket

Daria Viorica Biris, 19, playing basketball - Credit: Venetta Edwards

But there is also hard evidence, including some recent research developed by Joshua and Venetta, that basketball is a common denominator in the community that has enabled ideas, leadership, support, development, and diversity to be fostered.

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Joshua said: “Basketball has brought together every culture across Newham and given us the opportunity to tap into young people’s needs.

"Through basketball, we are helping young people with behavioural, ADHD and confidence building needs, and those seeking employment guidance. We have a kit which includes a hijab which enables more young women to be able to play."

This small project has a lot of bounce and has now partnered with NASSA Basketball (Newham All Stars Sports Academy) to ensure even more opportunities are available to Newham’s young people, including international competitions.

If you are interested in training, playing, sponsoring or volunteering with the Detached Diamonds, get in touch with or

Chris Chinagu playing basketball

Chris Chinagu, 19. - Credit: Venetta Edwards

What do Newham’s young people think?

Five testimonials to two great youth workers who had an idea, to the spirit of the game and Newham’s basketball community.

Daria Viorica Biris: “Basketball means a lot to me because it’s a distraction from the world…After a successful basketball session I feel relaxed, I feel like I have achieved something in the day.”

Chris Chinagu: “Not everything is about basketball because they also give me a chance to get involved with other activities such as art and design and….speaking to the mayor.”

Jevan Nuby: "It’s just a place to be happy and be myself.”

Edrissa Camara: “I consider it the spinach to my Popeye and it’s more than just a sport; it’s a culture.”

Kebream Blackman: “The new partnership with NASSA Basketball has given me further motivation to improve on my skills and progress to play pro. Ultimately basketball brings a sense of peace…all that is present is a ball, a boy, a hoop and a dream.”

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