Cai Burr, 17, from Shropshire, overcame agoraphobia to become a basketball star. Here, he tells us about his journey from being afraid to leave his own home to securing a sought-after place at this year’s Youth Sport Trust National Talent Camp:
“It was only a few years ago when I was too frightened to leave the house. I was so afraid of going out that even just the thought of it made me physically sick. I stopped seeing my friends and I felt like I had no purpose in life.
A year later, after help from various agencies hadn’t changed anything, my mum, who is a former basketball coach, suggested we go to a court ten miles away. I didn’t want to, but after several requests, I went along.
It was a cold December day and the court was in a bit of a rundown area, so it wasn’t the best place for anyone to be. On my first tries, I missed the hoop by miles and I just wanted to go home. But, my mum said that we weren’t leaving until I got a basket.
After a dozen more failed attempts, a dog suddenly came from nowhere and knocked me over as I let go of the ball to take a shot. To my amazement, the ball went in.
The next day, we went back to the court again and my mum set me a goal that I would get ten shots in a row. Three and a half hours later and I had done it!
From that day on, I never looked back. I would go to the court every day with a target to reach. As I got better at basketball, my anxiety gradually faded. People from the area even used to come and watch me sink baskets.
As I watched more basketball, I become interested in the rules of the game and I decided that I would like to referee as well as play. As soon as I started doing that as well, I loved it and I was hooked.
I now run and coach my own club. I also travel over two hours away from my home twice a week to play for a National Under 18’s league and I referee whenever I can.
For me, basketball saved my life. I am so grateful to be part of the Youth Sport Trust National Talent Camp. It gives me the opportunity to meet other people who officiate and it will also help me to reach one of my goals, which is to officiate internationally.
What Youth Sport Trust does is important to people like me because sport matters!”
The Youth Sport Trust National Talent Camp is a four-day residency which brings together the country’s most promising athletes, coaches and officials. The four-day residency provides a series of workshops, masterclasses and practical activities to develop skills for life both on and off the pitch. It is supported by Sport England thanks to National Lottery funding. Find out more here.