England’s best basketball talent backed by Sport England

Nine English basketball athletes have been selected for Sport England’s Backing The Best programme.

The programme, which is funded by the National Lottery and managed by SportsAid – the sports charity that supports talented young athletes – aims to level the playing field for athletes who would face difficulties progressing through their sport’s talent development system without critical financial help.

The following athletes demonstrated their outstanding ability to be eligible for the funding and will now work with the Basketball England Talent and Performance team to support their athletic endeavours.

They are:

  • Andrew Nwokolo
  • Athena Thompson
  • Benjamin Michaels
  • Emmanuel Ahamefule
  • Irene Oboavwoduo
  • Kelvin Aigbogun
  • Kervy Mabaya-Muteba
  • Myles Barry
  • Timothy Oboh

BE Head of Talent and Performance Steve Bucknall said:

“We are proud that this cohort of exceptional athletes has been chosen by Sport England, in collaboration with SportsAid, to receive the Backing The Best grants – a testament to their basketball talent and hard work so far in the game.

“The programme recognises their athletic abilities and potential to represent Great Britain and beyond. We will now work directly with each recipient to determine how they can make the most of their grant.

"Congratulations to you all, and we wish you every success in your sporting pursuits.”

Backing The Best recipient Kervy Mabaya-Muteba against Wales at the U18 Four Nations Tournament in Scotland

Backing The Best was launched in 2016 after a study, carried out by Leeds Beckett University, which showed the rising cost of becoming a sports star had led to certain athletes having to drop out.

All programme athletes must demonstrate outstanding ability to be eligible for the funding and also have to show that, because of their family's financial situation, they might not get the opportunity to fulfil their potential without it.

The awards are worth up to £5,000 per year to help cover expensive costs such as travel, accommodation, and medical bills.

Backing The Best alumni returned a stunning haul of 13 medals at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games with six golds, four silvers and three bronzes. The programme has also produced many world, European and national age-group level champions who have stepped up to the senior stage and had success including taekwondo athlete Bradly Sinden and gymnast Taeja Jame.