FREE BASKETBALL FOR LOCAL YOUTH
Local youngsters who play basketball were inspired by the story of Hackney player Joe White, a legend in the sport but an unsung hero, at a free Seminar held at Little Ilford Youth Zone, Manor Park, on Wednesday 3rd April.
The fun and interactive event was designed to attract local young people aged 13-19 years old to find out more about Joe’s significant contribution to the sport in this country and how the power of basketball can help both mind and body.
Joe White was born and brought up in Hackney and became a giant of the game locally before his untimely death in 2002, aged 40. He founded the White Heat Basketball Club and developed British based talent. His influence on the game gave gifted junior players the opportunity to play the sport at senior level and in the USA.
Joe made Basketball popular in East London by putting the ethos of the game to good use at grassroots level in Hackney, which helped to keep some Black youngsters out of trouble. Joe White’s activities became legendary and he was idolised by those who benefitted from his life-saving work.
‘Inspiring Youth Leadership Through Sport’ featured talks from players who were themselves inspired by Joe White and his approach to the game. Steve Bucknall, the first black British MBA player in the modern era and now coach to the Men’s U18 team, played with him. Having competed in the USA and all over Europe Steve talked about how much he admired Joe’s hands on approach with young people.
Rochelle ‘Rocky’ Davids is a coach and player at the University of East London. She was coached by Joe and remembers how hard she worked to claim a place in his team.
Laurent Irish is his nephew and founder of Future Generation Basketball which encourages professional players to work with young people in communities
He spoke from the heart when he said “I think of my Uncle Joe and I feel emotional because of all the good work he did getting alongside youngsters in a tough environment and giving them belief in themselves and something to aim at. You didn’t mess with Joe and he was always there to back you up. Everyone needs a Joe White in their lives.”
Home made food was provided by Joe White’s Mother Margaret, aged 82, and her sister Lillian Irish, who continue to be proud of his achievements. The Joe White Hall of Fame Exhibition was well attended.
Basketball workshops were popular with the youngsters. Louis Bukase, aged 16, who lives in Manor Park, has been playing for three years at Little Ilford School. He said “I love this game. I want to play in competitions but before that I need a mentor like Joe White to give me more confidence in myself and my ability. This event has been very inspiring.”
Steven O’Neil, aged 17, attends Uxbridge College and gave up football to play basketball. He plays for London Emperors U18s and said “The history of the game and seeing how hard work pays off is a great inspiration.”
The event was a joint venture between Scope 4 Success, Roots of Sport and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Mike Speranza from Scope 4 Success said “This project targets young people and adults from diverse backgrounds who wish to learn basketball. Today they were able to celebrate Joe White’s legacy to the sport and find out for themselves what can be achieved with direction and focus.”
Roots of Sport, based in Hackney, is a partnership of the Institute of Black Culture, Media and Sport, a social enterprise organisation set up to strengthen and
preserve the presence of African peoples and their descendants living and working in Britain.
Founder and Chair, Claudine Boothe, says “The Roots of Sport project commemorates leaders who have used sport to transform lives at both grassroots and elite levels. The passion of our speakers certainly motivated our young people.” For further information visit www.rootsofsport.org.uk