Her World, Her Rules – Coach Shanice Beckford-Norton doing it 'for the kids'

“I’m on the right path, I’m in the right place. This is fully aligned with my purpose.”

The words of London Lions captain Shanice Beckford-Norton after delivering a two-day basketball camp on the 3-4 March to 40 primary and secondary school aged girls at the Copper Box Arena, as part of FIBA’s Her World, Her Rules (HWHR) campaign.

Beckford-Norton was joined fellow player Ruchae Walton, Wura Ijelu of WuWorksWonders Therapy, life skills coaches Darnelle Morgan-Johnson and Naomi McKenzie, and coaches from the London Coaches Program, Emma Fraser, Reshaun Forrest, Kuljit Singh and Nicholle Lavinier, to deliver a programme of world-class coaching.

It included an introduction to basketball, competitive and fun games, as well as off-court workshops to help girls set goals, understand gender inequality and how the sport can make them feel good about themselves and help their physical and mental well-being.

Photographer and videographer Neve Palmer was also there to capture the event - see the gallery below.

The participants who attended the Sunday camp were also invited to watch the London Lions take on the Durham Palatinates in the Women's British Basketball League Cup, with the Lions taking the victory 98-65. 

HWHR is one of FIBA’s most recognised initiatives that aims to promote women’s and girls’ basketball across the globe through various activities delivered in partnership with national federations.

This year, FIBA made a significant financial contribution to British Basketball distributed to Basketball England and its partners to host girls’ basketball events in England, inspiring and motivating a new generation of over 400 primary and secondary school aged girls to play. 

Hands in: Shanice Beckford-Norton's (second in from right) HWHR event was run in conjunction with British Basketball and Basketball England

‘SBN: For the Kids’

Beckford-Norton’s camp was the first to be delivered under her new charitable organisation ‘SBN: For the Kids’, which is not-for-profit and provides opportunities for children from disadvantaged areas of London to play basketball and be involved with sport.

She says she wants children to stay in the game long-term and believes those with limited access to funds or resources are some of the reasons why they can’t.

Having got a taste of coaching and mentoring girls through basketball when she was playing for Louisiana State University, Beckford-Norton realised after her first professional-stint in Germany the impact of being a positive role model, which is why she has been working as a girls academy manager and head coach to two boys’ teams at the Kingston Lions for the past four years.

“What's kept me going through my playing career is that I'm doing it for these kids. They only have so much control over their life at their age. And if I'm able to help them gain control and help them steer their life [in a positive direction] then I can help them with that,” said the 26-year-old.

“I’ll never forget when we had a club day out and a massive number of kids came with their families to watch [the London Lions] play against Sevenoaks Suns at Surrey Sports Park and they had their signs, screaming and cheering [me] and my teammates. And that felt so special.

“I wanted to figure out a more concrete way that I could give back to my community and to the next generation.”

London Lions Shanice Beckford-Norton (centre) encourages participants at her HWHR camp

Reachable dreams and aspirations

Beckford-Norton is one of the most decorated players in Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL).

The Londoner has won two playoff championships, three trophy finals, two cup finals, and three league titles with the Lions, and multiple individual accolades, as well as being part of the team this season to march into the semi-finals of the EuroCup Women, the first leg of which they won 69-68 against Reyer Venezia.

In 2022, live on BBC One, she won a silver medal with the England women’s 3x3 team at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, exposing a whole generation of girls to her name and the game. Which is why, Beckford-Norton is calling for more air-time for domestic women’s basketball on TV and YouTube, and opportunities for aspiring female ballers to interact with their heroes to see how reachable their dreams and aspirations can be, as well as having a safe space to do that all in.

“It’s not just seeing us on TV and what we're doing online but being able to interact with us and ask us questions, and understand the pathway and the journey that we took to become professional basketball players; so, they understand that being a professional athlete is not some far-fetched dream and is something that they can actually achieve.

“A lack of resources is a big reason why girls aren't able to become professional athletes or elite athletes. And since I have access to that, and I have the means to provide these sessions for them, I think it's important that it gets done.

“It is very important to provide that space for girls and women's only basketball sessions.

“At a certain age, as young girls, we often go through struggles with body image and self-worth and low self-esteem and low confidence. To be in an environment where you're next to people who may have experienced the same things as you, you feel safe and won’t be judged.”

Take a look at the gallery below of Shanice's HWHR session. 

All images Neve Palmer

HWHR session staff: (left to right) Neve Palmer, Ruchae Walton, Shanice Beckford-Norton, Naomi McKenzie, Emma Fraser, ReShaun Forrest, Darnelle Morgan-Johnson, Kuljit Singh