Basketball coach Paul honoured in Queen’s list

IT WAS a very happy birthday for local Basketball coach Paul McKee as he received confirmation that he has been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Friday, 22nd June 2012, 1:00 pm

The Blackstone Basketball coach celebrated his 55th birthday with news that he would be receiving the British Empire Medal for services to Amateur Sport, Basketball and the Community.

Paul is well known in the borough and across Ireland for his passion and enthusiasm for the sport and was clearly delighted at hearing the news of his award.

Speaking to the Times on Friday, he said: “This is amazing, absolutely unbelievable, I really just can’t believe it. I received a letter from the Prime Minister’s office and it came with instructions not to tell anybody. I thought I was just nominated but it’s fantastic to be awarded.”

It hasn’t always been easy but Paul’s passion for basketball has helped him through 33 years of coaching the sport in Ballymena, but he modestly said he doesn’t do it for personal accolades.

He added: “I don’t do it for this sort of thing, I just work away and do what I can do. I honestly never thought coaching basketball would lead to anything like this.

“I get a great enjoyment out of it, especially seeing players develop in the sport and as individuals.

“Most players start out at the age of 11 and you get to see them right through their career. You have to take the rough with the smooth but this is certainly a boost.”

Despite working with very small numbers, Blackstone has produced some very high quality players. He currently coaches around ten hours a week but was quick to point out that the efforts of his colleagues is vitally important.

Paul said: “You can’t run a club on your own and there is some incredibly hard work carried out by the other members of the club.

“I’ve always appreciated support from people like Harry McGarrity, Mark McDonald and Paul Gillon. Paul’s coaching of primary school children paid off when we won the senior title.”

His passion for basketball runs in the family as daughter Paula is shortly taking up a job in Spain teaching primary school children and coaching basketball.

Paul added: “My wife said I was married to basketball before I was married to her. Even when I retire I will still keep busy and remain involved with the club and coaching in the area. The hunger is still there”