London: LGBT community urged to try out basketball

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Want to shoot some hoops? Not sure who to play with? Why not come along then to one of London Knight’s (formerly London Cruisers) gay men’s basketball training sessions and try it out! Rory Desch profiles one of its members, Jay Newton.

With 30 fast approaching, and coming to terms with his sexuality, Jay wanted a change from North Carolina, so when his employer offered an opportunity to up sticks and move to Cambridge, Jay didn’t have to think twice. Jay enjoyed living in Cambridge but had a yearning for exploration, so instead of returning to North Carolina, Jay went on to live in Paris before moving to St Albans and finally London.

Whilst in St Albans, Jay decided to return to sport and being no stranger to basketball, having played regularly in the US, Jay sought out a gay basketball team. Finding London Knights (formerly London Cruisers), only a short train journey away, Jay was keen to get back involved in a team sport.

Seeking to benefit from the social element too, Jay soon found himself planning nights out for the team and before long he was appointed social secretary; though nowadays social activity occurs without much planning so Jay directs his efforts to recruiting new players.

Describing his own basketball skills as “average” – but I’m sure he’s being modest – Jay points out that the skill level in London Knights varies, with some players looking to compete and others just for the fun of taking part. Most people will have had some experience of basketball; although they encourage anyone who’s interested to try the team out. Jay would to see more young players coming through to help lead the club into the future.

Some of Jay’s highlights have been when the club have gone on tour. The team have previously won gold at the Gay Games. London Knights are currently looking forward to competing in an upcoming tournament in Berlin in November. On the team’s recent change of name, Jay admits that some members met it with some reluctance, as they didn’t want the new name to take away from the legacy they had built. But others felt that the connotations associated with the term ‘cruisers’ was taking away from their recruitment and charitable efforts.

Jay believes being involved in initiatives like Out for Sport, is important as it helps form relationships within the community, giving a positive image of gay sport teams and hopefully encouraging others, who may be struggling with their identity to get involved.

Former NBA player, John Amaechi took part in London Knight’s recent Out for Sport taster session.

The session was well received and the team really appreciated the advice and support that John gave them. John hopes to join them again in the future when he’s next in town on business.

Jay is positive about London Knight’s future, the team is playing well. It has a new name and website, so why not come along and get involved in the fun?

Training takes place at Britannia Leisure Centre, Old Street, London, on Friday evenings from 7pm – 9pm.

For more information, please contact – [email protected], or visit our website here.