Having represented his country at every age group since he was 12, talented Sheffield teenager Marko Backovic is one of the country’s hottest young basketball prospects.
Marko, now 17, is part of the Sheffield Sharks squad and trains four days a week at the English Institute of Sport – Sheffield (EIS Sheffield) where the club is based.
The 6ft 5in King Edwards student was first talented spotted at just 11 years old when he was invited to play for the Junior Sharks.
He went on to represent South Yorkshire, Yorkshire and England at under 15, 16 and 17 level and he has now been picked out as one of Star Grass Roots’ 10 to Follow.
Marko, from Deepcar, said: “It’s been a great few years. I first started playing basketball with other kids in the Central Venue League when I was about 10.
“I also played football quite a bit but I was asked to join the Junior Sharks and things have just taken off from there.
“After being selected for the South Yorkshire and Yorkshire teams, I was picked for England under 15s when I was 12.
“After that, I progressed through the under 16s and I’ve just finished a season with the Under-17s.”
Marko, who studies geography, psychology and history at A Level, is hoping to combine his love for basketball with a degree in Events Management.
He added: “Most players these days have a degree. My priority is sport but I also think education is important.
“My plan now is to break into the Shark’s first team and become an established player.
“I’m also hoping to make the England Under-18s squad for next season and then eventually the GB Under-20s team but I’m just taking things one step at a time.”
A small forward, Marko has competed all over the world in 16 different countries and believes the basketball facilities in Sheffield are some of the best he has come across.
“EIS is a fantastic venue and the basketball courts and facilities are up there with best. They’re a great standard for national teams.
“We train there Monday to Thursday and Fridays are match days. We sometimes do light training there at the weekend as well.
“My strengths are passing, defending, rebounding and I’m also a decent scorer. EIS Sheffield and the Sharks have been brilliant at helping me to achieve so much in such a short space of time.
“Now I’m focused on becoming an established senior level player.”
EIS runs junior basketball coaching sessions with the Sheffield Sharks for seven to 16-year-olds to develop skills and tactics and improve balance, co-ordination and teamwork.
To find out more about how to get involved visit www.eis-sheffield.co.uk.