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Basketball success for youngsters

PUBLISHED: 13:34 15 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 March 2010

FOUR years of hard work has reached a slam-dunk

conclusion with the opening of a community basketball court.

Scores of youngsters showed off their court skills to community leaders and invited international stars at the official opening of the court in Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich –but it wasn't just the players who were walking tall.

FOUR years of hard work has reached a slam-dunk

conclusion with the opening of a community basketball court.

Scores of youngsters showed off their court skills to community leaders and invited international stars at the official opening of the court in Hawthorn Drive, Ipswich –but it wasn't just the players who were walking tall.

"This just goes to show what can be done if we all put our minds to it," said chair of Chantry Residents' Association, Babs Veal.

"The court is already very well used. This is hopefully just a first step. There are lots of other things we can do around the estate."

Terry Hagan, who helped start up the youth development initiative behind the £29,500 project four years ago in response to a

perceived decline in facilities for young people in the area, said that he was delighted the group had reached its target. Although the court has been open since February, the official opening last night was a chance to get everyone together and enjoy a well deserved slap on the back, he said.

"It's been exhausting. We came up against opposition, sometimes from the most unlikely people, but we also had some very good

support," he said.

Suffolk County Council leader, Chris Mole, deputy leader, Jane Hore and councillor Sue Thomas were among those he especially wanted to thank.

England international basketball player, Peter Scantlebury, was among those contributing to the ceremony. The sporting ace was in the area taking part in the week- long Suffolk Summer Slam with fellow player Steve Nelson.

"Kids don't get enough exercise and sport these days with all the computer games about. I like to see kids having access to courts like this - and this is one of the better courts I have seen."

Mr Nelson is retired from the game but works as the national development manager for the Basketball Association, a group aimed at bringing the sport to more people, and who donated two goals costing £1,000 each.

He said: " We believe it is

important that young people have somewhere to play and it doesn't cost them an arm and a leg."

Other donations to the project included £18,000 from Suffolk Environment Trust, whose

representative Jan Whittaker was at the opening. The youth initiative joined forces with the Chantry Residents' Association and acquired charitable status as part of the fundraising process.

The opening ceremony was performed by deputy mayor Don Edwards and his wife Wanda.

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