Free basketball tournament set to help young people blaze a trail

Blaize Turner-Coleman

More than 200 young basketball players will be holding court this week as a ground-breaking new basketball tournament gets underway right at the heart of Liverpool ONE.

Three v Three is the basketball equivalent of football’s five-a-side and more than 60 teams will be vying against each other on a purpose-built court installed on Chavasse Park.

The brainchild of the Toxteth El8te CIC, the event is set to be the first ever large-scale 3x3 basketball tournament in the region.

The five-day tournament, which starts on Wednesday 16th August 2023, will encourage participation in the burgeoning sport by showcasing some sizzling basketball skills, culminating in a grand final on Sunday afternoon.

Free open coaching and mentoring sessions will also be on offer for young people to try every day at the specially-installed court.

For one local youngster, “b-ball” has already become the passport to a potential life in the United States of America.

Blaize Turner-Coleman (pictured) has been attending basketball sessions at the Firefit Youth and Community Hub in Toxteth and he believes the intense skills and fitness training – offered free by Basketball England and supported by the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership and Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner – offer the best chance at a career slam dunk.

The 14-year-old form Birkenhead, who first started shooting hoops aged five, said: “I’m home schooled because when I went into class my four hours a day training left me tired – and I would fall asleep.”

“While football clubs have academies, there are no elite sporting schools in Liverpool and so I am waiting until I am 16 to look at going to the States.

Blaize who is six-feet tall and plays Point Guard (similar to a midfielder in football) has already travelled to Birmingham, Leeds, and Leicester to play, opportunities which have helped him to develop his confidence and self-belief.

He added: ““If it weren’t for the project, I would be looking at some serious outlay for shoes and kit and it can cost £50 a session just to train and play.”

Toxteth El8te’s Emile Coleman said “The inaugural LVP 3X3 Tournament is set to be a ground-breaking event, bringing the first ever large-scale basketball competition right into the heart of the city, at the Liverpool ONE shopping complex.

“Prepare for some unforgettable moments, jaw-dropping skills, and the joy of uniting the city through the power of basketball! Come, play, and conquer!”

Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Basketball is the second highest participation sport in the UK, but there is currently a lack of resources available for young people to get involved.

“Through the region’s first ever large-scale, free 3X3 Basketball Tournament we are trying to change that - giving more than 200 young people the opportunity to showcase their skills on a brilliant stage, while also hopefully inspiring and encouraging hundreds more to take up the sport.

“The power of sport is incredible. By providing opportunities like this we are not only keeping young people happier and healthier, we are also building their resilience and channelling their energy and abilities into positive activities during the school summer holidays. This all helps to create brighter futures and a lasting legacy for our region.”

Debi McAndrew, Early Years Education Lead for the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership, said: “Becoming involved in sport is more than a mere distraction for young people. As we have seen from projects we have funded across Merseyside, fitness of body and mind improves and self-confidence grows, which makes it much easier for young people to achieve their goals.

“Other benefits include broadening the mind, becoming involved with people from all walks of life and developing respect for agencies such as the council and police, who are involved in the Toxteth project.”

Iain Finlayson, estate director at Liverpool ONE, said: “We are delighted to support the inaugural 3x3 basketball tournament at Liverpool ONE. Positively impacting the lives of young people is at the heart of our community initiatives.

“By supporting grassroots sport organisations, we invest in more than just sports, we invest in the future of the young people across the region, improving their confidence and mental health."

The tournament has been supported by Merseyside VRP, Liverpool ONE, Merseyside Police, Basketball England, Concordia Clinic, Wedge Collective, Nothin About The Music and Elite Portal.