Stars of Birmingham 2022 invited to No.10 to showcase power of basketball

Basketball England athletes Orlan Jackman and Shanice Beckford-Norton are heading to Downing Street to showcase the power of the sport. 

The Team England duo, who won Commonwealth 3x3 Gold and Silver medals respectively at Birmingham 2022, have been invited to No. 10 by the Prime Minister’s Wife, Akshata Murty, to showcase how basketball has shaped their lives to a group of school children.  

The invitation is part of Mrs Murty’s ‘Lessons at 10’ initiative, which brings children from across the UK to Downing Street, with the aim of giving them an inspirational educational experience through workshops and activities, and to encourage them to love learning by hearing from people in different industries.  

It is also a unique opportunity to experience what goes on behind the famous black door, which has been home to British Prime Ministers since the 1700s.  

Twenty Year 9 children from Westminster City School in London and Bemrose School in Derby will step inside the world-renowned address and listen to talks by Jackman and Beckford-Norton, who will share their journeys and successes in the game and then host a 3x3 basketball coaching clinic outside Number 10, with skills, drills and mini games.  

Mrs Murty hosts a 'Lessons at 10' workshop. Image - Simon Walker / No. 10 Downing Street

Beckford-Norton, who plays for London Lions in the WBBL and is also a coach, said: 

"It's a great honour to be invited to 10 Downing Street and demonstrate to young people how basketball has made me who I am today.

"I hope that everyone enjoys listening to our stories and sees Orlan and I as living proof of not only the level of success you can have in the sport but also the cultural, educational and social significance basketball has on people's lives - bringing people together and positively impacting their physical and mental well-being."

City of Birmingham Rockets forward Jackman said:  

"Any opportunity there has been to share our great sport with new audiences I have tried to grab it with both hands.

"I look forward to inspiring the delegation of young people and the adults during our meeting. I believe experience is the best teacher and if you can pass on the benefit of your experience to somebody else then you may well be the best teacher in the world. 

"I know the power of basketball on and off the court. It helped me thrive and earn a living and I want these children to see that they can have that too."

Basketball England's CEO Stewart Kellett

Basketball is Britain’s joint-second most popular team sport amongst young people – after football. 

According to Sport England’s Active Live Survey, over 344,000 adults (16+) play basketball twice a month, and nearly 1.2 million children and young people (U16) play it every week.  

The sport is incredibly diverse and accessible, with both genders and people from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds playing the game. 

In 2023, Basketball England was named Sporting Equals Sport Organisation of the Year – which recognised the governing body’s excellent progress on the agenda for ethnically diverse people and communities and is an example to follow. 

Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett said: 

“It really is a joy and benefit that Mrs Murty sees basketball as we see it, a wonderfully inclusive and important sport that can inspire and bring to life a child’s love for education.  

“We, along with Shanice and Orlan, are ready to show the children and other delegates at Number 10 how basketball is embedded in people's lives up and down the country and is changing lives as well.  

“The basketball family is of immense value to society and our economy and provides support and direction in many of our most underserved communities.  

“People have a strong affiliation to the game that goes way beyond the court, it’s the culture, the bonds and friendships it creates. 

“We look forward to meeting Mrs Murty and the children at Number 10 and maximising the opportunity to inspire more people to try sport and be active, and to support those who want to make it their life-long passion and career.” 

Triumphant night for the sport 

3x3 is simple and flexible enough to be played almost anywhere by anybody - and it's no surprise it is the number one urban team sport in the world. 

The three-a-side version of basketball is played on one basket, in shortened 10-minute games. All you need is a hoop, a half-court and eight players (three on court and one sub). 

The game made its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and was one of the main attractions at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where Team England won Gold and Silver medals. 

Birmingham homegrown baller Myles Hesson and teammates Orlan Jackman, Kayne Henry and Jamell Anderson won England’s first-ever basketball gold, while England’s women - Hannah Jump, Chantelle Handy, Cheridene Green and Shanice Beckford-Norton - completed a triumphant night for the sport with a hard-earned silver medal. 

Jackman, who’s originally from Hackney, has won numerous titles and individual honours in the British Basketball League and in the National Basketball League (NBL), as well as playing overseas in Portugal and Germany.  

He is still active in the game and currently plays in NBL Division 1 for the City of Birmingham Rockets. 

Professionally, Jackman is Basketball England’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Officer and helped to administer its 3x3 Legacy Fund, which engaged over 10,000 participants via 160 playing opportunities and educated 180 activators in 3x3.

This year, he was appointed to the Board of Commonwealth Games England. 

Londoner Shanice Beckford-Norton is a figurehead of British basketball. 

The Brit has since gone on to represent Great Britain at Euro Basket Qualifiers, whilst becoming a staple in the London Lions roster.  

Known for her speed and scoring mentality, Beckford-Norton has won two Women’s British Basketball League 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 that created British basketball history by winning the women’s EuroCup – the first-team, male or female, from Britain to win European silverware.