NBA basketball star to open academy at University of Bolton
A FORMER American basketball star is launching a sports academy at the University of Bolton aimed at helping young people — and giving the town its own professional team within two years.
Malcolm Leak played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Los Angeles Clippers before going to play for teams in Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, Chile, Venezuela and Cyprus.
He moved to England in 1998 to play for the London Towers and then the Newcastle Eagles and Leicester Riders before coaching in Denmark.
Mr Leak said: “I want to help youngsters in their lives, to be successful in whatever they do — particularly their studies.”
In each country where he has played, alongside the basketball Mr Leak has been involved in projects helping young people achieve more in their lives.
The Connecticut-born player took a social work degree at university in America, and during his time in England he was a social worker in Bolton for four years.
“I was from a single parent family,” he said. “I had just a mom but I got into sport, which really made a difference. I believe that young people need mentoring and role models to help them achieve the best they can in their lives.
“Playing sport can help with this — and I’ve built a programme that can make a difference. Young people don’t have to be the number one in a sport to get more out of their lives, but they can use the skills and experiences to do better.”
During his time in Bolton, the 43-year-old, met therapeutic artist Tracy Fenton, who also uses her skills to help young people and the two have collaborated on a project with the University of Bolton to establish the ML Elite Basketball Academy.
Ms Fenton said: “Malcolm and I work in the same way, by engaging with young people through a medium they enjoy and helping them with their confidence and self-esteem.”
The sessions at the university will be mostly run for students, with young people of any age welcome on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Mr Leak said: “I think we all have a duty to use the skills we have to help young people today. They need help in their lives, and by encouraging them through sport to study and achieve they get more out of their lives.”
Zubair Hanslot, Off Campus Provost at the University of Bolton, added: “We are delighted to have this exciting opportunity come to Bolton and we look forward to seeing these talented young players flourish here at the University.”
* To find out more about the Academy call 07807 009208.
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