BASKETBALL: AN ELLESMERE Port schoolgirl wowed a nationwide television audience on Monday as she appeared live on the Children's BBC show X-Change to display her basketball skills.
Michaela Swan, 11, of Cambridge Road, was invited to the West London studios by the BBC to appear on the show which encourages young people to get involved in sport. She stayed overnight in the capital with her mum Barbara and younger sister Georgina.
She said: 'I was really nervous but I had a great time. I took on the show's presenter, Joe, in a tricks challenge and beat him easily.I spun the ball on my finger, through my legs, around my back and then did a 'figure of eight' blindfolded before scoring a basket. The television people all seemed impressed and called me 'The Ellesmere Port Express'.
The youngster, who starts at Stanney High School next month, was spotted by TV bosses several weeks ago when competing in the Face Off Tour at Manchester's G-Mex centre, which tests players' ball control and technique. Despite having to battle it out against adult opponents, Michaela finished in the top 16 out of over 6,000 entrants, although she vowed to finish first next year.
Mum Barbara said: 'She takes a ball with her wherever she goes and never stops practising. She's a bit of an all-rounder and was asked to come back by coaching staff at Manchester United last week after a training session at Old Trafford, even though she's not played much football before.
'Michaela also does Frisbee and I was told she could be an international player if she keeps it up.'
Michaela has been playing basketball for two years and was inspired to take up tricks, or 'free-styling', after watching her favourite Chester Jet, John 'Mookie' Thomas.
She said: 'I really liked the way Mookie played the game. Even though he was the smallest player on court, he was the most talented. He won't be playing for Jets this season so James Hamilton will be my favourite now.'
Along with Barbara and Georgina, Michaela avidly attends all of Jets' home games and took part in a half-time shoot-out during January's National Cup final.