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Thurrock trio aiming to slam dunk basketball challenge for Diabetes UK

Three boys from Thurrock in Essex are taking on a basketball battle to fundraise for Diabetes UK and shine a light on the condition.

Team Hoop Freakz (pictured) is made up of nine-year-old Lil Joshua and 12-year-olds Manvir and Zandro. Manvir lives with type 1 diabetes and along with his teammates, is aiming to compete in the Ball Out 3x3 National Tour – the UK’s biggest 3x3 basketball tournament.

The young ballers are taking part in three under-14s age group qualifying events across England, starting in London this month and then onto Birmingham and Essex.

The three friends set up their 3x3 team soon after sporting restrictions were lifted in England earlier this year, as they struggled to find competitive basketball events in their local area.

They play together whenever they can, often against their parents and siblings.  Lil Joshua has been playing basketball since he was six years old and has now been invited to join a youth basketball programme in New York. Zandro is an avid player and also a highly-ranked swimmer. 

Manvir, the inspiration behind the challenge, started playing basketball in 2019 and has a martial arts background. He was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was four years old, although having the condition hasn’t stopped him as he uses a flash glucose monitor to check his glucose levels via a sensor on his arm. This technology helps Manvir manage his diabetes and has a positive impact on his physical ability while playing sport.  

James Amissah, Lil Joshua’s dad, said: “All three wanted to fundraise for Diabetes UK in support of Manvir’s condition and decided to enter Ball Out 3x3 to raise awareness and fundraise for a worthy cause. They hope to raise £1000.

“We’ve had lots of support for the challenge – their kit is sponsored by streetwear brand Hoop Freakz; they are being mentored by professional players thanks to the National Basketball Youth Mentorship Programme and conditioned by Body Sharp Fitness. Writtle Sports at Writtle University College let us practice on site.”

Teresa Strange, Eastern Regional Fundraiser at Diabetes UK, said: “We want to thank this amazing group of boys for taking on this unique challenge. Last year we saw demand for our services reach record levels, while our own funding was significantly impacted. This year is still going to be very challenging and, more so than ever, people with diabetes need us, but we need your support to be able to continue fighting their corner. 

“Without the help of generous supporters like Team Hoop Freakz, we simply would not be able to offer support to the thousands of people with diabetes contacting our helpline, to campaign to keep people with diabetes safe in the workplace, or to invest in vital research – taking us a step closer to our vision of a world where diabetes can do no harm.” 

You can sponsor the team on their Just Giving page

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