BBC Unsung Hero: John Amaechi mentor wins North West award

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Joe and Maggie Forber win the BBC Sports Unsung Hero award for the North West region

Joe and Maggie Forber have won the BBC Unsung Hero award in the North West region for 2013, for their work promoting basketball in Manchester.

Joe has coached for more than three decades and has worked with thousands of youngsters, including John Amaechi, who went on to play in the NBA.

Wife Maggie has worked as an administrator and official for Greater Manchester Community Basketball, the club they both helped to set up in 1997.

Their early success led to a new £2m purpose-built facility being opened in Whalley Range in 2002.

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Get Inspired: John Amaechi on basketball

The Amaechi Basketball Centre bears the name of Joe's most successful prodigy, who appeared for Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz, as well as winning a bronze medal with England at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

"He's the closest thing to a father figure I've ever had," Amaechi, who was born in America but grew up in Stockport, told BBC North West Tonight. "I wanted to see his nod of approval and that would be the thing that drove me forward."

The 42-year-old added: "Joe and Maggie are really the only two people who can take any credit at all for my success in basketball, and they are, quite literally, the only two people who never take any credit."

Around 1,500 players use the Amaechi Basketball Centre each week.

"It's no hardship at all," said Joe. "It's what I enjoy doing. I like sport and I think it's got great value for kids."

Joe and Maggie will now go forward for the national award, which will be presented at the on Sunday, 15 December.

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