Basketball players in Brightlingsea are looking to raise £2,500 to help renovate the town's open air basketball court.
The project, which has the backing of Brightlingsea Town Council, has been launched by a former member of the Brightlingsea Sledgehammers, which was formed in 1993 by pupils at the Colne Community School. Jay Kitchen, 37, says the money will go towards new backboards, rings and an art installation at the Promenade Way court.
Said Jay: “The court is not really run down as such, I just have this vision to renovate it and improve the backboards and nets and add an art installation, themed on the great success of the Brightlingsea Sledgehammers basketball club over its 25-year span winning 65 titles."
The basketball court on Promenade Way
He added: "After talking with the council we are hoping to start the works in the spring or summer of 2022. So we have a while to raise as much money as possible. Hopefully together we can make this a reality and provide a safe, practical and trendy place to nurture future basketball talent and be a great place to practice for any current enthusiasts. This will be a fantastic addition to our little town."
The Brightlingsea Sledgehammers team was originally formed by Jules Keeling, now 41, when he was just 13 years-old and a pupil at the Colne School. At the time there was no junior team, so he decided to start up his own. George Ward, considered the "uncle" of the club, stepped in to coach the team of 12 to 14-year-olds and the Sledgehammers have continued playing ever since.
“I never thought it would go on for this long but it just evolved into a men’s team,” said Colchester-based Jules. “If George had not have stepped in I don’t know what the team would have become because he did such a great job coaching us. One of our players, Thomas Sadler, ended up having a ten-year professional career and now coaches the women’s team at the University of Essex. We have also had many players who have gone on to play in the national league as well, which is amazing.”
Now there are two men's teams in Brightlingsea, the Sledgehammers and the Cossacks, both of which train at Brightlingsea sports centre and use the beach court as a place to shoot around and practice. There's also a new junior Sledgehammers training session for kids aged between 11-16 on Mondays at 5:45pm, which is run by Matt Keeling. For further information, see the team's Facebook page.
To donate visit gofundme.com/f/brightlingsea-sledgehammers-beach-court-renovation.