Games organisers are looking for local heroes of grassroots sport to star in a billboard campaign across the West Midlands in 2021 as things gear up towards the 2022 spectacle.
Ricardo was the first Hometown Hero to be unveiled, after dedicating his life to working with young people from inner city Birmingham.
Originally from the Portuguese city of Porto, Ricardo used to be a semi-professional basketball player, but his family couldn’t afford for him to pursue his dream. He came to Birmingham in the summer of 2018 to start a new life and decided to drop by Nechells Wellbeing Centre, to see if there were any opportunities with the City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Club.
After starting out as a volunteer coach, Ricardo progressed to work for the club both as a coach and by assisting with marketing and communications duties. The impact he’s had with the young players in that time has been described as “staggering.”
He works upwards of 65 hours per week, giving up many of his evenings and weekends to coach children between the ages of eight and 18. Ricardo has made a huge difference to the club, possessing a unique ability to work with absolute beginners and elite players alike.
Ricardo has developed hugely since arriving in the UK, learning English and becoming confident enough to represent the club, not just in the community but across the city.
🆕| @birminghamcg22 are on the lookout for #HometownHeroes – stars of community sport in the West Midlands – to be the faces of their next campaign.— Basketball England (@bballengland) October 14, 2020
People like @cob_rockets's @RicardoDAlva2 📽
Nominate your Hometown Hero now ➡ https://t.co/Fmfl2gxc0p pic.twitter.com/3s6GIS8hV8
Rockets Managing Director Robert Palmer nominated Ricardo, and said: “I’m nominating Ricardo as a Hometown Hero because I believe he inspires the next generation of young people to realise their dreams.
“Ricardo joined the club two years ago when he moved to Birmingham from Portugal, and ever since he’s dedicated his life to working with hundreds of young people of all backgrounds and abilities. We couldn’t imagine the club without him.
“Basketball changed Ricardo’s life and now he’s using the sport to change the lives of young people. If there were more people like Ricardo in the West Midlands, we’d have a wonderful legacy of sport in this region.”
Ricardo was delighted to be recognised as the first Hometown Hero, adding: “It is such an honour to be a Hometown Hero because it shows I’ve been able to have a huge positive impact on the young people I coach. The club represents the diversity of the city and brings the community together, takes young people off the streets and gives them a positive focus in life.
“I started here as a volunteer because I never thought, growing up in Portugal, that I could make a career from basketball. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity that the City of Birmingham Rockets have given me to make a living teaching the sport I love.”
Organisers are asking people to nominate those who deserve to be recognised for making a difference to their communities by dedicating their lives to grassroots sport, and can be anyone who lives and works in the West Midlands.
Nominees could be an inspiring coach, dedicated volunteer, courageous player or diehard supporter, or someone who’s had a real impact on their sport club, team or facility.
The campaign aims to celebrate and represent the rich diversity of the West Midlands by recognising people who go above and beyond to encourage participation in sport and exercise in the region.
To nominate someone to be a Hometown Hero, please visit www.birmingham2022.com/hometownheroes. Entries close Friday 6th November. Terms and conditions apply.