Josephine Vourliotis following dad's footsteps on path to basketball stardom
By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat
Basketball sensation Josephine Vourliotis says her father’s love for the game is fuelling her Olympic dream.
The Vourliotis family are the beating heart of the Manchester Mystics, with father Ploutos the assistant coach of the senior side and daughter Josephine the club’s fledgling forward.
Few father-daughter relationships are underpinned by a common love for basketball but Vourliotis would not have it any other way.
“It's just a family thing and it's a way we can bond as well,” said Vourliotis, who started playing when she was 12-years-old and is supported by a partnership between SportsAid and Gaucho.
“As well as coaching the senior team, he helps me to improve. Every summer when school is finished we'll do our own workouts and I’ll constantly be improving because he's got the experience.
“We can help each other too because he still plays a little bit now at national league level.
"It’s great to follow in my dad's footsteps and show how basketball can go through the generations – if I have kids I'd like them to play basketball."
Besides her father, Vourliotis identifies former Team GB star Temi Fagbenle as her sporting hero and hopes she can one day grace the Olympic stage as Fagbenle did in 2012.
Vourliotis is set to swap Manchester for Kansas to help her bridge the gap to the elite level, having observed the sport's best as part of the Team England Futures programme at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“Hopefully I can get to the Olympics or Commonwealth Games one day,” added the 18-year-old, who is funded by SportsAid and commercial partner Gaucho.
“I was part of the Team England Futures programme with SportsAid, and it was so interesting to go behind the scenes of it all.
“I’ve been part of England Basketball since I was 14 and played for the GB Under-17s last summer so hopefully I can continue that journey.”
SportsAid Week is an annual initiative which was launched in 2016, with this year’s event taking place from Monday 6 March to Sunday 12 March.
This year’s theme focused on ‘Accessibility and Inclusion’ as the charity shines a spotlight on the country’s most talented young athletes and celebrates the incredible work being undertaken by its partners to support the future of British sport.
The theme of ‘Accessibility and Inclusion’ was an opportunity for the charity’s partners to highlight their own work in this area during SportsAid Week, with SportsAid athletes recently revealing that accessibility and the cost of sport are the issues they care most passionately about.
It opened up discussions on the progress being made, as well as the challenges faced, in the sports sector.
“I think it's important to show that anyone can play basketball or wheelchair basketball,” said Vourliotis.
“It can be for people of all ages and you can just have fun with it.
“It doesn't even have to be at an elite level. It could just be to have fun, to go to the park and to get to know people and make new friends.”
SportsAid Week 2023 took place from Monday 6 March to Sunday 12 March and was a dedicated week of fun and awareness-raising based around theme of accessibility and inclusion. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk