London Sport Awards 2021 nominees: Inspirational Young Person of the Year - Kieran Matthews
INSPIRATIONAL basketball coach Kieran Matthews has been nominated for a prestigious London Sport Award after transforming the lives of young people throughout Willesden, Harlesden and beyond.
Matthews, 26, set up Capital Titans thanks to support from the Local People Project in Brent, having previously been involved in the sport as a teenager.
As well as encouraging physical activity during basketball, the club works with young people to support them with mental health awareness and first aid training, providing online classes during lockdown.
Inspirational Young Person of the Year, in association with BBC Radio London, nominee, Matthews, said: “Growing up was challenging. I got involved in things I shouldn’t have, so that’s why I now try and run the club and try and make sure more kids don’t go down that path.
“On paper I’m the basketball coach, but I obviously do a lot of mentoring and support work outside of that, making sure they have access to courses, making sure they’re being trained up and they’re exposed to opportunities that they need going forward.
“Lockdown was tough because we couldn’t go and see any of the kids anymore, and they couldn’t come to us. We did a lot of online workshops and online sessions.
“We had a whole week planned where we did strength and conditioning on Mondays, skill work on Tuesdays, mental health on Wednesdays, lots of online workshops.
“At the start it wasn’t as easy as there wasn’t a lot of guidance on what we were allowed to do and what we weren’t allowed to do, but it was very important as those kids just needed help and needed people around them they could trust.
“If this wasn’t here for them, they wouldn’t be involved in sport. They wouldn’t have the opportunities that they have. I don’t think many other programmes in this part of London actually do what we do when it comes to sport and young people.
“To be nominated for this Award really means a lot to me.”
Over the last five years, the annual London Sport Awards, in association with the City of London Corporation, has grown to become the biggest celebration of grassroots and community physical activity and sport in the city.
And this year’s showpiece event will once again recognise, celebrate, and shine a light on the stories of the incredible individuals, groups and organisations for their outstanding work across the capital helping Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to be physically active.
Former basketball player Daniel Szatkowski coaches at Capital Titans and recognises the positive impact Kieran has on the young people who attend.
Szatkowski, 35, said: “Those kids often come from backgrounds similar to Kieran. He quite often stays after hours, spends countless hours over the phone to make sure no boys are getting in trouble.
“This kind of day-to-day work which Kieran does helps him have a great relationship with the boys and directly impact their lives. Having him rewarded is just a testimony to the things he does on a day-to-day basis.”