Lions basketball team come roaring in to Hackney

The London Lions pose outside their new home The Copper Box

The London Lions pose outside their new home The Copper Box - Credit: Archant

»Youngsters can learn how to slam dunk this summer as one of the UK’s top basketball teams come roaring into the borough.

The London Lions, who are part of the British Basketball League and the capital’s only professional team, will move into the Copper Box at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on August 1 in a 10-year deal.


Until then, the club will provide free basketball coaching to young people at the Gascoyne Estate in Wick Road and Mabley Green Park in Lee Conservancy Road, Hackney Wick, from July 29 to the first week in September.

Head coach Vince Macaulay said: “We believe it’s fun to play basketball. It’s the coolest sport on the planet. Everybody wants to play and it regularly features in music videos and films.

“The sessions are free for kids to take part and they will have a Lions player and a Lions coach. We’ve got outdoor courts in the borough.

“As long as youngsters attend a couple of sessions, they will get free tickets to our first game.”

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The Lions’ first game of the season against the University of Iowa is on August 14.

“They are one of the top five university basketball teams in America,” Mr Macaulay said.

“They are on their way to do a European tour and it’s a real honour that they are stopping off to play us.”

Hackney lad Gabriel Olafeni, who is on a sports scholarship at the university, will return to home turf to play.

The move is an exciting one for Lions who have struggled for years to find a permanent home.

Mr Macaulay said: “We are really excited. It’s without doubt the best basketball arena in the country.

“The overall impact on grassroots basketball after the Olympics has been huge as more people have been taking up the sport.”