Croydon Cougars Basketball Club was founded by local Deputy Headteacher and former professional basketball player, Paul Munday-Castle, together with a group of his friends following the 2011’s London riots to provide young people with positive activities and a safe environment.
The club caters to multiple age groups and offers recreational and competitive basketball to all who wish to participate.
As part of Deutsche Bank and Sported’s sporteducate programme, Croydon Cougars launched a weekly homework and reading club, combining access to free basketball training with Maths and English support from a professional tutor. “The feedback has been amazing. All my young people are either in employment, training or education, we’ve lost nobody” says Paul.
Utilising his insight and experience as a teacher, Paul has been able to use basketball, and the structure and incentives offered by the club, to address some of the key issues holding young people back from fulfilling their potential. As he explains, “I notice that some young people have a very strong sense of what injustice is and will often rebel and disengage from their educations if they feel they are being wronged or if their teachers don’t like them. They think ‘Well I’m not going to work for you’, not understanding that they are actually working for themselves.
He adds: “We work very hard to break down these barriers and re-educate that they’ve got to use their teachers – whether they like them or not – to get what they need in life, which is a good education. Then they start to see things differently. It’s the same mentality developed here on the court. To get game time, you need to attend the classes, perform well and train hard in practice. This helps them a lot to rationalise it and change attitudes.”
Sporteducate has also seen Croydon Cougars players benefit from personal mentoring from Deutsche Bank volunteers, none more so than 22 year-old Warsame.
“Sporteducate is an amazing model. It helps you connect the dots in your life. Before I would never have thought to say basketball has helped me develop and gain leadership and communication skills.”
A long-time member of the club, Warsame was studying Business Management at university when he was paired with Deutsche Bank volunteer mentor Nicola Wallace. Although academically strong, he lacked the knowledge of making the step-up from higher education into employment.
Over the course of the next year, Nicola mentored Warsame, meeting regularly to discuss his career options and develop his employability skills. Together they focused on his CV, job applications and interview skills, as well as acting as a general sounding-board. With aspirations to work in Human Resources, Nicola even arranged two weeks’ work experience in Deutsche Bank’s own HR department to boost his CV and give him that all important career insight.
More than anything, the mentoring gave Warsame the self-belief to challenge his assumptions about what is possible for a young person from a deprived part of London. Heralding from Croydon herself and sharing a comprehensive school education, Nicola was able to find common ground and share her experiences and insight from her own career path.
“I got a lot of confidence from the mentoring. Nicola talked about where she was from and what she did to get to where she is now. It was not a million miles away from what I’d done myself. ”