OUR FIRST HOMETOWN HERO
“Ricardo inspires the next generation of young people to realise their dreams. If there were more people like Ricardo in Birmingham, we’d have a wonderful legacy of sport in this city”.
It’s easy to see why Rob Palmer, the Managing Director of City of Birmingham Rockets Basketball Club, nominated Ricardo D’Alva as a Birmingham 2022 Hometown Hero. It’s an accolade that will see him star in an upcoming billboard advertising campaign celebrating local heroes of community sport.
“Coaching young people effectively takes a special kind of person”, Rob says, describing the huge impact Ricardo has had on the club since he moved to Birmingham from Portugal in 2018.
“Ricardo is a role model because he presents himself in a such a positive manner; you’ll never hear him say a negative word to anybody. The young people he’s coaching can see that he’s dedicated, committed, and sees the job through.”
Unable to make a living in Portugal from playing basketball, Ricardo initially settled into a new life in the UK, working for a well-known sandwich chain.
A chance encounter with Rob at the club’s base in Nechells started Ricardo on a path that would not only change his life, but those of hundreds of young people who shoot hoops there every week.
It’s a path that’s led him to be celebrated as a Birmingham 2022 Hometown Hero. Ricardo says he hopes it will shine a light on the power of sport to change lives:
“Basketball helps the young community here because if they are busy doing something like basketball, the chances for them to be on the streets, or putting themselves in trouble, is less.”
More than 800 young people attend coaching sessions at Nechells Wellbeing Centre every week. Everyone is equal, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or socio-economic background.
The club’s MD Rob Palmer says sport, and specifically basketball, has been a great unifier for the local community:
“We’re very proud of the fact that our people represent the diversity of the city. The biggest beauty in that is our ability to bring communities together that maybe under other circumstances people seem to think won’t interact.”
First as a volunteer and now as a full–time coach and club ambassador, Ricardo works tirelessly for the club, but always does so with a smile on his face. He says he’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity City of Birmingham Rockets gave to him:
“The club has opened the door for me, and I will try to work hard and support them as much as I can. It’s a big opportunity to have the chance to help other people.”
The young players he coaches certainly think he deserves the title “Hometown Hero”. Under 18 player Sarah says: “The team loves Ricardo, he’s helped me to become a stronger player and believe in myself.”
Under 12 player William says simply: “He always encourages me; it makes me feel really happy about myself. Ricardo deserves to be a Hometown Hero because he’s probably one of the best people I’ve ever met as a coach”.
Birmingham 2022 is looking for more people like Ricardo, who have made a difference to grassroots sport in the West Midlands.
If you know a Hometown Hero who deserves to be recognised for going above and beyond to develop sport in their community, nominate them here.
Nominations close at 23:59 on Friday 6th November 2020.