Meet the 62-year-old Washington man who is pursuing his dreams of representing Great Britain in basketball

A former professional basketball player pursues his dreams of representing Great Britain in the sport he has dedicated his life to, despite being overtaken at his prime in the traditional sporting sense.

Keith White of Washington started playing basketball competitively at the age of 18, turning professional after just five years with Newcastle. And although he played at a high level for many years, he never achieved the honor of playing for his country on the European or world stage.

He hung up his boots when he turned 50, but now, 62, Keith is back in the sport so much that he’s so impressed he hopes to make his dreams come true – by going on the court with GB this summer.

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Keith said of his story: “I started playing basketball at a young age. I progressed in different leagues and teams, and played at a high level for many years. I managed to secure a place in the Newcastle team at the age of 23 and played in the National League but never had the opportunity to represent Great Britain on the international stage.

“I kept playing until I was in my early fifties and then retired.”

Keith White with his over-40 basketball club in Newcastle

But just three years ago, Keith decided to get back in the action with his friends – launching a 40-plus club at Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle Eagles, Scottswood Road. In his endeavors, he also hoped to make people his age more active.

He added: “About three years ago, at the age of 59, I decided to return to sports when one of my friends came up with the idea of ​​creating a club for players of an older age group.

“I’m not going to lie; I found it difficult to get started at first, but with the help of some basketball sessions for walking and a lot of determination, my fitness levels started to rise, and my passion for the sport returned.”

He continued: “It’s very important to just get people energized again – especially after the pandemic when it was very difficult to do any kind of exercise at all to be honest.

“I think just trying to get people active and fitter than they are is a really huge thing. It’s a bonus to be able to compete with some sports as well, and that’s part of the reason why the club was created… you don’t have to be a good player to come in, you know? “

During this preparation period before the infection of the Corona virus, he saw an advertisement from the Masters Basketball Association, inviting players over the age of 60 to represent Great Britain in the European Championships. At the time, the tournament itself was scheduled to be held in Spain in 2020.

He took the opportunity, heading to the trial in Manchester. Keith was very pleased with his choice of the final team.

“When people are younger they always aspire to represent Great Britain in anything, but when you get to my age you think time is already up,” Keith added.

“And then you find out there are opportunities to still be able to do that, with the 60+ team that I represent.

“There are other age groups as well because they start at over 35. It would be a really massive thing because you never know how long you’re going to keep playing at that age. It’s a very rare opportunity I think.

“It’s something that really needs to be realized as much as possible. It will help people who may not be staying active to think about getting active again and competing with people of the same age.”

Soon, however, the global coronavirus pandemic halted his aspirations, as the tournament was postponed along with many other competitions and sporting events around the world.

However, it has now been revealed that the tournament will take place this summer, in Malaga, Spain – after coronavirus regulations and restrictions have seen massive changes allowing sporting events and travel to return to somewhat of normal. And while the coronavirus pandemic appears to be fading, a different blockade now stands in Keith’s way entirely.

After changing professions, and now working only part-time, the once affordable cost required to be able to realize his dreams at a later time became somewhat unrealistic.

He added, “While it’s an honor to represent your country in a sport you love, it comes with costs. First, everything has to be self-funded. Weekends for national training, GB Kit, entrance fees, excursions, and accommodations come to a huge sum. .

“At first, meeting these costs was not an issue. However, due to the recent change in staffing status, I am requesting some financial assistance to achieve this goal of representing GB in the European Championships in June 2022. I am not looking forward to getting the total cost funded, But if I could raise £1,000, it would be a tremendous help.”

Keith in turn took to GoFundMe in search of generous donations from the general public to help him take him to Malaga this summer and finally fulfill his dreams. So far, he has raised £230 of his £1,000 target – but he hopes to continue raising funding through spirit and local support.

To learn more about Keith’s story, as well as to donate to his cause if you’re interested – you can do so here.

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