If you are looking for an exceptional example of what is good about British basketball, the Dagenham Dragons club is it. This isn’t just the fastest growing basketball club in Britain; it’s a vital community asset. Since their creation in 2013 Dagenham Dragons have gone from strength to strength; a tribute to founder Jack Kendall, a former semi-professional rugby league player, who had himself experienced substance abuse problems.
Jack originally formed the club to operate on a Friday night, and give the youth of the local community something constructive to do, rather than hang around on the streets. Now the club has several youth teams through its structured youth programme, runs a young offenders programme and is aiming to launch a professional team. Next season Dagenham Dragons will be playing in National League Division Four having just played an unbeaten season in the regional London leagues.
A community united by basketball
When Jack Kendall formed Dagenham Dragons in London’s East End his aim was to keep the young people of the area away from crime and drugs; to give them an activity they could take pride in. The community baseball club has only been in existence for a little longer than twelve months, but already it has in excess of 80 members, and has reached out to a dozen local schools, telling over 500 children all about the joys of the sport, and helping them to keep fit.
Although basketball is in their hearts, it’s not all that the members of the Dagenham Dragons do for the community. They also take time away from the sport, on various community days, when they complete tasks such as painting local buildings, or making the community a better place to be by picking up litter. This gives the young people taking part a sense of pride in their community, and shows them how important it is to be respectful of their environment.
A giant player helping a giant cause
Local charities also benefit from the existence of Dagenham Dragons, with regular fundraising activities taking place at the club. In November 2014 US pro basketball team Lake Michigan Admirals took on the talented Dagenham Dragons team, with proceeds from the match going to the Karis May Darling Foundation, which provides assistance to underprivileged children.
Over 300 people turned out to watch the game, with one of the main attractions being the world’s tallest pro basketball player, Bob Wegner. Over £2,000 was raised from the game, an impressive achievement for a club that is such a relatively new addition to the community.
Crowd funding for the future
As the Dagenham Dragons aim to launch a professional team, and to continue to embrace a basketball for all ethos within the local community, so they are reaching out to people to get involved. They are running a Crowdfunder UK project to enable people to support their work with sponsorship, and to join the Dagenham Dragons family, in supporting the youth and extended community within the east end of London. As the club strives to continue its growth, it looks as though the symbiotic relationship between the Dagenham Dragons and the local community is set to strengthen even further.