Basketball coach who helped to transform the lives of gang members to be honoured


A former Birmingham City University student who overcame adversity to create the largest community focused basketball club in the country for young people in Birmingham is among the outstanding former alumni who will be honoured at a University graduation ceremony next week.

Nigel Hanson graduated with a degree in Law in 2003, and is being honoured as one of the University’s Alumni of the Year in the Community Engagement and Leadership category.

Nigel’s outreach work dates back to over 20 years, having turned his life around after being caught up in a gang related shooting where two bullets, aimed for another man, injured him instead. The incident, in 1991, curtailed Nigel’s career as a professional basketball player, and as a result he began his mission to use the sport to move young men or women away from unhealthy lifestyles, guns, gangs or offending.

Nigel said: “When I was shot, that was a turning point for me. Basketball not only saved my life but turned my life around and I wanted to try and do the same for others.”

Nigel became heavily involved in community sport activities while a student at Birmingham City University transforming the institutions basketball programme as a player-coach and by leading them to success in 2002 when they won the British Universities Sports Association regional title.

Since completing his law degree at Birmingham City University, Nigel has established Birmingham A's as the leading basketball club in the country through the development of bespoke projects that create better life chances for young people and children. An example of just one of these projects is the Birmingham A’s District Basketball League, that will enable 3,000 young people to showcase their ability in a competitive but friendly and safe environment through the development of 50 basketball clubs throughout the city's 10 Districts and 40 wards.

As a qualified lawyer, Nigel has enjoyed a very successful career, which includes having a landmark ruling in a case reported in the House of Lords in 2006. After acting Pro Bono for clients as part of Birmingham City University's Free Representation Unit he climbed his way up the career ladder to become Head of Employment Law for the entire city at Birmingham Citizens’ Advice Bureau all within five years of completing his studies with Birmingham City University.

Today Nigel still works closely with Birmingham City University; operating the Birmingham A’s basketball club from the University’s Doug Ellis Sports Centre and employing students from the Criminology course on the club's Yes U Can project funded through the Home Office’s Ending Youth and Gang Violence Programme.

Nigel has secured over £500,000 over the last two years from the work that he has been doing to not only carve participating youngsters into talented players on the court, but to also help them become productive active citizens contributing to their local community. Nigel helps young people with their studies encouraging them to volunteer within their community enabling them to improve their employability skills.

Looking ahead, Nigel is expanding the impact Birmingham A's, community-focused sports projects will have both locally or nationally and was delighted to have been named as one of the University’s Alumni of the Year.

Nigel said: “I feel more about getting this award than I did about winning national titles as a player or being in the England national squad. It recognises what I have done for others rather than myself; although I never set out to get recognised for any of the work I do, it’s very nice that I have been.”

Nigel’s award ceremony will be taking place on 18 February 2013 at Symphony Hall.

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