Chiswick Gators basketball team confirm move to Hammersmith

Image above: Chiswick Gators basketball team; photograph Chiswick Gators

Local basketball team to relocate to Hammersmith for better facilities 

The Chiswick Gators basketball club has officially announced its decision to move out of Chiswick, confirming it will be relocating to the Hammersmith Academy on Cathnor Road, just north of the Goldhawk Road.

Starting this September, the weekly basketball sessions for children aged 6-15 will be held at the Hammersmith Academy every Wednesday during term time, from 6 pm to 7.30pm (replacing the  Tuesday sessions). Friday sessions will take place from 6.00pm to 8.00pm at the Gunnersbury Sports Hub.

The Club said:

“Hammersmith Academy promises to be a good location with brand-new sports facilities, better basketball hoops, and more space to play on. The venue has great parking and is easily accessible by public transport.”

Image above: Chiswick School, where the Gators were based

Better facilities and… easier to get there

The coaching staff for the new session will be led by Richard Maye, the head coach & senior development officer. Joining him will be national league head coach Lara Hassan, Kayode Piper with Friya Colaco, and Michael Kwentoh, further enriching the training experience for the young athletes.

The decision to relocate comes after a series of issues at the previous venue, Chiswick Sports Hall on Staveley Road. The Club said the lack of maintenance, leading to persistent leaks, made the facilities potentially dangerous for club members.

Some had complained about staff arriving late to open the hall, causing delays in the sessions. The club and Head Teacher Laura Ellener held several meetings to address these problems, with the school promising to provide support. Despite these efforts, the club says the challenges remained unresolved.

Parents of club members have welcomed the move, as some have received penalty charge notices for using Staveley Road when dropping off their children. The proposal to reopen Burlington Lane as an alternative route was recently dropped by Hounslow Council. As a result, some members said attending Friday evening sessions had become impractical if they wished to drive, leading them to quit the club.

Image above: Ali Abucar Ali plaque

Sadness about leaving, as Chiswick venue has memories of Ali Abucar Ali

While many parents support the relocation to Hammersmith Academy for the improved facilities and accessibility, there is a tinge of sadness as the Chiswick venue holds a plaque commemorating Ali Abucar Ali, a former player and volunteer coach at Chiswick Gators. Ali was killed in 2021 after being fatally stabbed in Brentford shortly after leaving a Friday training session.

Michael Kwentoh, founder of the club, said:

“Chiswick School has been the home of Chiswick Gators since we started out in 2016 with a wonderful group of Chiswick School students, and the school will always have a special place in our hearts.

“I started coaching basketball at Chiswick school back in 2011 just before the London 2012 Olympics games. However, with the club’s promotion to Basketball England’s Premier division this year (competing now as West London Gators), the time was right to move to new facilities with competition-standard basketball courts.

“We hope to welcome young people from Chiswick School – and from across West London – to train with us and to enjoy the fantastic game of basketball at our new venues- Hammersmith Academy and Gunnersbury Sports Hub.

“We would like to express our sincere thanks to Chiswick School and to head teacher Laura Ellener for all the support we’ve had through our years training in Chiswick School Sports Hall.

“We do one day hope to return to Chiswick School as it’s home to the club. It’s the place Ali Abucar Ali and myself Mike Kwentoh first founded the Chiswick Gators club. So it holds a special place in all of our hearts.”