London Lions Foundation launches on World Basketball Day
The London Lions Foundation has launched today at the Copper Box Arena in East London, designed with the ambition of fostering greater access to basketball for communities in the capital facing the highest levels of deprivation. Serving as the first of its kind, the Foundation will provide a series of community-supported programmes and projects – ranging from court renovations and summer camps to providing exit routes to elite player and coaching development pathways. All programmes are aimed at strengthening local communities, serving as a beacon of international basketball excellence.
The vision for the Foundation will act as a catalyst for positive change, where individuals of all backgrounds have access to opportunities for engagement, personal growth, skill development, and leadership. The initiative launches amidst research from the London Lions revealing that 73% of Brits feel cities are forgetting about their children and a further 42% of people from ethnic minorities feel they would have diverted away from anti-social activities in their youth if they had greater access to sport and community programmes. Head of the London Lions Foundation, Imran Sanaullah, discusses the importance of initiatives like the Foundation and what this means for the communities it represents.
Imran Sanaullah MBE, Head of the London Lions Foundation, said:
“Upon recognising a number of issues, including the limited access to opportunities, lack of youth development and inequality and exclusion, London Lions sought to be a beacon of positive change within its local communities. Enter the London Lions Foundation, which has been created to tackle these and many other issues through the power of basketball, the UK's second-most-played sport.
“The London Lions Foundation is dedicated to igniting positive transformation within London-based communities through the power of basketball. Rooted in a vision of empowerment and social impact, the foundation has crafted a robust Theory of Change that outlines a strategic roadmap for achieving its mission. By strategically engaging, skilfully developing, and passionately excelling individuals through basketball, the foundation envisions a holistic ecosystem that not only fosters personal growth and community well-being but also establishes London as a thriving hub of basketball excellence alongside the London basketball community.
“Essentially, the London Lions Foundation’s initiatives unfold through two focussed streams – “Cubs to Lions” and “Court & Careers”. The former provides a comprehensive talent journey that guides participants through the Engage, Develop, and Excel phases. This journey nurtures skills and personal growth while simultaneously achieving the Foundation’s overarching social outcomes.
“Concurrently, the "Court & Careers" stream enriches the basketball ecosystem, crafting accessible spaces and viable career pathways within the sport. Together, these streams exemplify the foundation's resolute commitment to holistic development, community empowerment, and basketball excellence, propelling positive change across London's communities and beyond.”
Launching on the inaugural World Basketball Day, as approved by the UN, the event will see over 100 young people from across London attend a skills and training session hosted by the Lions at the Copper Box. The Lions Foundation aligns with five of the UN’s goals for development:
- Good Health and Wellbeing
- Quality Education
- Gender Equality
- Decent work & Economic Growth
- Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
- Partnerships for Goals
Built upon the six core values of community centricity, empowerment, excellence, innovation, respect and collaboration, the Foundation will provide a series of community programmes and projects aimed at nurturing a sense of community spirit in areas that desperately require greater cohesion. Last year, in partnership with London-based residential developer Mount Anvil, the London Lions aided in the creation of a stunningly unique basketball court in Bethnal Green, East London, providing a free space to play for the local and surrounding communities. Testament to the vital role the Foundation serves to the communities it supports, the London Lions commissioned a recent study which found that 46% of Brits believe having a free space to play sports or do physical activity is their most important mental health aid. The research also showed that 58% of Brits said their best memories from their childhood are playing sports and having fun in their local area with friends/neighbours, further inspiring the Foundation’s launch.
- 46% of Brits say playing sports with friends in their local area when they were younger helped develop some of their most important life skills
- 16% of Brits say if they did not have free space to play sports growing up, they would have engaged in anti-social behaviour or crime
- 73% of Brits agree that cities are forgetting about children, becoming congested and running out of space for kids to play
- 58% of Brits say some of their best memories from their childhood are playing sports and having fun in their local area with friends/neighbours
- 46% of Brits believe having a free space to play sports or do physical activity is their most important mental health aid
The Foundation will be supported into fruition by investment from 777 Partners with community and grassroots activities serving as one of the primary objectives for ongoing funding.
Integrating youth engagement with concerns related to physical activity, basketball emerges as an exceptionally fitting conduit for realising the objectives of the London Lions Foundation amidst the distinctive demographics and challenges of London. The city boasts approximately 1.1 million young individuals aged 8-19, while a notable 70% of basketball enthusiasts fall within the age range of 13 to 35. Given these statistics, the sport stands out as one of those best poised to contribute positively to the development of young people, mitigating the risks associated with negative influences. The culture surrounding the sport is one of diversity and vibrancy – fashion, art and music are central figures within basketball and these will be given the platform to continue to grow alongside the sport as a whole.
In terms of physical activity, only 65.8% of Londoners meet recommended physical activity levels. Owing to its low physical requirements, basketball has the potential to motivate a broader demographic, particularly individuals from groups or communities traditionally underserved by sports. Concerns arise from the lower rates of activity observed in specific groups in London, such as those in Outer London (58.9%), women (51.2%), and Black and Asian Communities (47.2% and 43.3%). Of particular concern is the younger demographic, with only 45.3% of young people achieving the lower threshold of recommended physical activity.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, commented on the launch of the Foundation:
“London is the sporting capital of the world and I am delighted that the London Lions Foundation is bringing together communities through basketball and creating vital opportunities for young talent, as we continue working together to build a better and fairer London for all.”