South Asian Heritage Month: The Reading Rockets' Jaz Bains on his basketball journey

  • Watch the report by ITV Meridian's Andrew Pate

In the first of a series of reports to mark South Asian Heritage Month, ITV Meridian has spoken to a basketball player, who's a trailblazer and an inspiration to others.

Jaz Bains became the first South Asian player in the UK Basketball League, when he joined the Reading Rockets.

The Canadian player was nicknamed 'Smooth Jaz' when he first signed.

He's back home practicing for the new season when they tip off again in September and he's hoping seeing him play will encourage others to do the same.

Jaz Bains says he didn't have the opportunity to see somebody in positions of success within basketball being of Indian descent.

He says: "For kids it gives them a goal, where they can say, I could be a professional basketball player. It's like a confidence boost. I see somebody who is like me in a position of success."

  • Jaz Bains, Reading Rockets:

The Reading Rockets train at the John Madejski Academy, under coach Matt Johnson.

Matt Johnson says signing a South Asian player grabbed the attention of sports fans across the world.

He says: "Jaz's signing had a lot more interest in fact than our north American players. Traditionally American and Canadians will get a lot of the press. It went to a whole new, different part of the world.

  • Matt Johnson, Director of Coaching, Reading Rockets:

Jaz Bains says he feels young South Asian people aren't always encouraged to pursue a career in sport, but believes any barriers can be broken down.

He says: "I feel there is a stigma sometimes that Asians don't play basketball. But that's definitely an area that is easily crackable if you put in the work."

As well as encouraging young people, Jaz is also proudly shows the basketball-world his Sikh beliefs, by wearing a turban when playing.