Festival hits new heights

Alan Hoyle
Alan Hoyle
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BASKETBALL players will be reaching new heights with a spectacular display planned for this summer’s Festival of Alnwick, to celebrate the visit of the Olympic Torch – featuring trampolines.

Aspire 2 Achieve has lined up three days of entertainment and sport during the week-long extravaganza, which runs from June 9 to 15, including a demonstration of Slamball, a unique form of the game where four trampolines are placed in front of each net.

Players often perform astonishing aerial flips as they attempt to score, giving the traditional game a unique new twist.

The man behind Aspire 2 Achieve is former basketball player Alan Hoyle, who is one of only two British players to score over 100 points in a single game. From Blyth, he now coaches across the region, while his company raises the awareness, confidence and productivity of youths in the area via the medium of sport and other various fun and challenging activities.

As well as the Slamball demo, which takes place on June 14 – the day the Torch arrives in Alnwick – Alan is also organising a special All-Stars match featuring the best players in the county, to be played at Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre on June 10.

And to cap it off, attempts to break two world records will be staged at the venue on June 13.

“It’s taking quite a bit to organise and plan, especially getting the Slamball team working together,” said Alan, 28, who set up Aspire 2 Achieve two years ago. “Playing basketball with trampolines involved is totally different. You have to factor in getting the heights and ranges right, which is a lot of work, but we think people will enjoy it. It’s pretty spectacular.

“The Festival of Alnwick fits in well with what Aspire 2 Achieve does, which is to get more people interested in sport and what’s available in their own community. We aim to build self-confidence, concentration and self-esteem in young people through the medium of our activities, by making it as positive, fun and relaxed as possible.

“Basketball is a great sport, easy to learn and a lot of fun, so we use it as a vehicle to promote success through hard work. People can really see the improvement they have made and what they can achieve.

“You don’t have to be six-foot-five to play well. There are a lot of players shorter than that who make use of their skills, so there is a place for everybody. It doesn’t matter whether your short, tall, a man or a woman.

“Basketball is all I wanted to do, but I got injured in a game and the doctor told me that I’d probably not be able to play professionally. That’s when I went into coaching and I actually found it more rewarding. To see kids you have coached doing well is fantastic.”

But it isn’t all about basketball. Aspire 2 Achieve provides a wide range of activities to schools, colleges, universities, community centres and other groups in and around Northumberland, as well as for birthday parties or team building and cooperate events.

Visit www.aspire2achieve.org.uk