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Hoops ace aims to hit the heights
8:20pm Friday 22nd February 2013 in News
“ALWAYS stay positive,” that’s Tyrone Small’s philosophy in life and he’s really going places.
The 22-year-old, of Grange Park, is juggling two jobs, having enjoyed a hectic summer keeping children from inner city New York off the streets and entertained in Camp America.
“I’ve always wanted to help people and this was a real challenge. Some of the kids were demanding, but I survived and enjoyed the experience. “It gave me an insight into how tough life can be for youngsters from families who are really struggling to make ends meet.” On a musical note, Tyrone has also been singing at venues across the country with his recently formed band Ant and is now taking bookings for this summer.
“It’s a 10-piece group and we cover a lot of different genres – folk rock, hip hop, R&B jazz,” he said.
“We write all our own songs and it has really taken off – we supported Toploader at the MECA, performed at the Big Arts Day and also took part in one of the festivals to mark the closing of the Paralympics in London. “Since we gave away some CDs and started promoting ourselves on Facebook, we have been getting lots of interest and gig requests.”
As if that wasn’t enough to keep himself busy, he has been exercising his passion for basketball too and plays with Swindon Shock, which has just been promoted to the top division in the West of England Basketball League.
“I’ve loved the sport ever since I was 14 – it’s a great way to get fit and stay out of trouble,” Tyrone said. “We started out as just a few guys shooting hoops and teaching others how to play at Walcot youth centre, through a Lottery-funded Street Games project. “Then we went to parks and other open spaces, asking people if they wanted to play. The response was great – loads of people got into it and wanted to play as part of a team. There are now four teams – national league, men’s, women’s and wheelchair. It has been an amazing journey and just keeps getting better.”
He credits Swindon Shock’s remarkable story to David Colclough, who works as a sports development worker at the council and has volunteered countless hours to build up the basketball scene in Swindon.
“David has been such an inspiration to me. He has this tremendous enthusiasm and energy, which rubs off on everyone.” he said.
But Tyrone also has his own claim to fame, having won a national award for his endeavours – the Co-operative Young Volunteer of the Year award. Gaining funding to renovate a sports hall and run a mini basketball league at weekends, developing regular evening sessions, along with gaining a coaching qualification are just some of his achievements.
“I don’t do it for recognition or to gain anything back from it. It’s just a great sport and a brilliant feeling when you introduce others to it and they love it too, particularly if they’re having a hard time,” he said. “I don’t know how many people I’ve helped but one story really sticks in my mind. A guy who sometimes came to the youth centre kept getting himself into trouble with the police for fighting.
“I worked with him, we started talking in between shooting hoops and became friends. I heard from him out of the blue the other day on Facebook – he thanked me for helping him out and said he had got a great job. He was earning more than me! That’s the sort of message which makes your day, just knowing you made a difference.”
Tyrone has his own big ambitions career-wise, having worked his way up from temping jobs he is now a car salesman and VIP manager at nightclub. He said: “I had enough grades to get into college but I’ve always been happier learning outside the classroom. I’ve done all sorts of jobs – litter picking, selling shoes – you name it. Then I tried bar work and progressed to become assistant manager. Ultimately I would like to open my own restaurant and also run a sports complex.
“Aim high, be positive and never give up is my motto in life and it seems to be working so far. If I can do something, it’s proof anyone can.”