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Sheffield student wins scholarship to study and play basketball in the United States

Declan Kom, aged 17, has been given the opportunity with the help of organization Make it Work Global and Sheffield City College.

Nicholas Lewis, who is a point guard for the Sheffield Sharks basketball team, created Make it Work Global in 2019 as he wanted to give something back to the sport, and help young people progress in the sport.

Within the organization there is a Pathway programme, which focuses on basketball.

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Declan Kom

Nicholas said: “We’re growing in numbers and we officially launched our program called Youth Sports Athlete – that’s a program that we’re really focusing on now.

“We’re providing training for ten year olds right up to 17 year olds.

“The reason we started this program is because we wanted to be able to give the youth in Sheffield an option where they can consistently get better.

“We feel that is what is missing in basketball in England, not just Sheffield.

Declan Kom

“We’re giving athletes the opportunity to improve and develop through our pathway programme.”

The program goes into schools and helps them launch after-school programs and PE lessons.

Sessions take place at Parkway Sixth Form college and the Concord Leisure Centre.

Another program which is part of Make it work Global and has proved very successful is called The Global Transition.

Declan Kom

Declan, from Stannington, has greatly benefited from the program, and with the help of Nicholas’s organization and mentorship has secured a high school place in the America.

Nicholas said: “We were able to connect Declan to a school called The Patrick School, located in New Jersey.

“This is the former school of Kyrie Irving, an NBA basketball player – he’s one of the best players in the world.”

Declan has been given a full scholarship and will be training and studying for the next two years.

Declan Kom

“I’m going to do whatever I can to help him get to the NBA.

“That’s his goal, his goals and dreams are to get to the NBA, and we’re just here to help him along the way.”

Declan is a former Notre Dame pupil currently studying A level PE, basketball B-tech and a diploma in sports excellence at Sheffield City College.

He lives with his mother and five sisters.

Declan first became interested in basketball when a cousin from South Africa introduced him to the game.

Declan says: “My cousin played and liked watching NBA.

Nicholas Lewis of the Sheffield Sharks. start of a coaching initiative called Make work it Global

“He showed me the sport when I was about eight or nine and from there I met Nick and Eddie Barno who trained me from around the age of 11 or 10.”

Asked how it feels to be leaving the UK for two years, Declan said: “I’m very excited, because it’s really just the beginning of everything.”

Although Declan will be leaving his mother and sisters behind in Sheffield, he does have a family in the USA.

“A lot of my family moved from Cameroon to America, so I have a lot of family out in the States, not particularly New Jersey but I’ve got people close around New York.

“I’ve got a lot of family out there for support. “

Declan will be leaving for America at the end of May.

He will be starting summer school to catch up on their academic year, as well as playing some Summer Basketball.

This will mean he is starting slightly behind in his academic year.

Declan said: “I think I will be able to manage it, I’m good with my studies, I definitely think I will be able to manage quite well.

“I know it will be a hit when I first go out there, but I definitely think I will be able to manage it after a week or two.”

He said his mum was ‘extremely excited’ about the opportunity for him to go to America.

“From being young she’s been really supportive of me going out to the States to play,” he said.

“When I got the opportunity she was more excited than me.”

Brad Connor is head coach at Sheffield City College, which hosts an elite basketball programme.

Players from all over the world come to Sheffield to train and study.

Brad said: “We have a full professional program for basketball players between 16 and 18.

“We have four players this year going over to America and one to Italy.”

The program has been running since 2018.

Brad added: “Declan has shown massive improvement since he’s been at the college.

“He was a kind of under the radar player, and now everyone knows who he is now.

“He’s showing everybody what he can do.

“He’s basically one of the best in the country for his age right now.”

Declan plays in the position of Point Guard.

“He’s like one of the smaller players on the team, but he’s very, very athletic,” adds Brad.

“He’s basically been one of our stand-out players this year and one of our youngest players as well.”

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