From basketball to business

With his basketball team London Zip, Lennox Charles hopes that sporting prowess will lead to wider success

By Emily Finch

As winter takes hold, one EC1 local has come up with a solution to keep youngsters active and off the streets. Lennox Charles, 71, is a well-known face in the area thanks to his work in the volunteer-run Tenant’s Management Organisation in Clerkenwell’s Brunswick Close Estate.

He helped isolated residents become part of the community through various festivals and his new basketball team, London Zip, is now helping youngsters off the streets.

Lennox is also a living legend in his home turf of Union Island in the Grenadines after he helped launch the island’s first basketball team. His original team were called West End Zip and he helped them become formidable players who could out-manoeuvre most other teams in the south Caribbean. But now he has his eyes set on EC1 and cultivating new talent to join London’s amateur basketball league, known as the CBL.

He said: “I can teach you to spot the opponents’ weaknesses and raise your defence and strength. I can give you the skills so if you want to be professional, you can.”

The team – which currently consists of around 20 players – meet regularly at City Sports and have already played a few matches in the CBL. They have lost two games so far but are determined to still come out top when the season ends in June. “Of course, we can still win the league.”

Lennox, who coaches alongside his sons and friends, is now concentrating on teaching the theory behind the game which revolves around distinctive ochre balls.

Recently, the team packed into an office room at the Peel Community Centre to assess where they could improve to make sure their next CBL match results in a win.

Lennox has a slightly unusual dream for his team – to become a business. He does not seek profit or glory for himself but wants the club to earn money to teach more youngsters about the beautiful game.

“We are building a foundation and organisation where the players are invited to be owners,” he says. “I want to see corner-shops owned by the players.”

The team are currently looking for a permanent home in the area and is still seeking players and people to help the team grow.

If you want to join the team or you have a suitable court space which London Zip can call home: Email londonzip@yahoo.com