George Allen, a Year 7 student at Gillotts School has got agreement from Henley Town Council’s Recreation Committee to support his idea to install a basketball hoop and a 7 x 7m tarmac goal end with basketball markings at Makins Recreation Ground.
George has played basketball since he was 6/7 and started going to Reading Rockets basketball club a year ago.
The Committee recommended that £11,200 of the £16K estimated cost for the court should be referred to the Finance Strategy & Management Committee for them to recommend that this amount be taken from capital expenditure to be earmarked, subject to a successful public consultation and external fundraising of the remaining amount.
George said, “At first my entire family was obsessed with football. I am a sporty person and like playing football with my mates but then I tried out basketball and I really liked it. My Dad then got me a better basketball net and I started playing every day and practice at least an hour every day. For the first five or six months I went to Reading Rockets on my own. Then I asked if my friend Lachlan wanted to come. Our other friend Andreas wants to join. We’ve been inspiring people to join. We go every Sunday to train.”
Keen to learn and train more, George hopes to get into a team squad soon. George commented, “The hardest skill I think to learn is faking where you’re going to move.” He has watched lots of basketball on TV and hopes to go and watch a live Reading Rockets game soon. His ambition is to become an NBA player when he’s older or something related to the sport.
George came up with the idea last November and has been working with Town Clerk, Sheridan Jacklin-Edwards to bring the proposal to the Council committee and selected the type of court he would like. He initially raised £200 through a fundraising platform. He thought that Makins was the best place for the court as it was a central place, quite quiet with a nice view. Speaking at the R&A meeting George said, “I believe it is great for mental wellbeing and making friends down there because one person or group of people just don’t own it and it will take people off their screens or if they are bored they can go down there.” Afterwards George said, “It was nerve-raking but showing up at the meeting I think made it easier for them to say yes.”
George’s Mum, Stephanie read out a statement from India Morrison at the R&A meeting which said, “I’m a 13-year-old who plays basketball three times a week in Reading and the closest hoop is currently in Wargrave which means being driven there by my parents. A hoop in Henley would allow me to practice more and improve my game. It would also encourage people to be active and outside and improve team building skills and would have the ability to play matches.”
Fundraising for the court, George has set up a gofundme page at www.gofundme.com/f/henley-basketball-court which he’d love people to donate to. He is also looking at putting on a sponsored dog walk, taking dog photograph portraits and applying to Waitrose and Tesco to become one of the community token projects. He comments, “I really hope that we hit the target and get it done and I’d love to have a plaque on the court so that when I’m with my friends they can’t say you did not do this!”
Henley Town Council Clerk, Sheridan Jacklin-Edwards said, “The next stage would be to also carry out a public consultation on this asking people on the type and design of the court and the location. We hope to open this to everyone soon.”
Basketball court at Wallingford