A TEENAGE basketball ace from Redditch has high hopes of a bright future in the sport after showing huge promise in his early years of playing.
Despite only taking up basketball three years ago, 13-year-old Lewis Leigh of Batchley is already taking the sport by storm having been selected for the Basketball England under 14s squad, part of which saw him recently attend a national training camp at the Nottingham Wildcats Arena as part of the National Development Pathway programme.
The St Augustine’s Catholic High School pupil is an extremely dedicated member of Redditch Basketball Club, for whom he plays in the local men’s league and even more significantly represents Team Birmingham under 14s in the National League.
Lewis’ father Peter said: “What Lewis has already achieved having only begun playing basketball three years ago is amazing.
“Twenty-five youngsters attended the England under 14s training camp and Lewis was one of only three from the West Midlands.
“It’s exciting because if he keeps progressing so well there is a really good chance he could make a career in the sport in the BBL in this country or even in Europe, where the leagues are more lucrative.
“He has had to work really hard, training up to ten hours a week. All his spare time and weekends are taken up by basketball and we are hoping his dedication and commitment can take him a long way.
“We are particularly proud of how modest Lewis is about his England selection and the effort and commitment he shows.
“England don’t generally play international matches until under 16s level, but it is hoped there will be a one-off friendly against Scotland soon. Until then, Basketball England will monitor Lewis and hopefully he will continue to attend their training camps.”
Lewis, a point guard who stands at 6ft tall, is a key member of the Team Birmingham under 14s ranks and has also played for the Perry Barr-based club’s under 16s, whilst in the Redditch league he plays regularly against grown men and was recently tasked with marking a 6ft 8in opponent.
Peter added: “It’s quite amazing how Lewis has taken to basketball and, even though his education is most important right now, we are looking at the options for him after GCSEs as to how best to help him continue progressing.
“I must say a big thank you to his former PE teacher at St Bede’s Catholic Middle School, Matt Russell, who helped Lewis so much both on and off the court. Matt played a big part in growing his confidence and it’s paying off now.”
Another big influence on Lewis’ progress is Dave Bradshaw MBE, the secretary and head coach of Redditch Basketball Club, who works tirelessly to aid the progress of players of all ages at the club, whilst men’s head coach Luke Freer is also contributing some precious work on the court with Lewis.
“I can’t thank Dave and Luke enough really.” said Peter. “Basketball does not get the funding and exposure it deserves but thanks to their efforts they have helped put Lewis on the England radar.”