Post-Riot London Update.

August 14, 2011

I was in Lausanne last weekend at the Roof Top tournament when I got a
text asking if I’d heard about a riot in Tottenham. It felt surreal
looking out over peaceful Lake Geneva and thinking about London
destroying itself. As we flew home, I couldn’t help but look out for
spirals of smoke or burning buses.

A couple of weeks ago, London hosted the 2011 London Open at Hackney
Downs. It was an incredible tournament and I think you’d be hard pushed to find
anyone that thought otherwise. This video was taken from the entrance
to the park last weekend, outside the pub most people went to
post-tournament. You can see the police chase rioters into Hackney
Downs at the end…

We’ve always struggled a bit with courts in London. Most of the courts
we use are located near large (and occasionally notorious) estates.
The locals love their courts and obviously enjoy feeling empowered by
having a space where they decide the rules and can control who
enters/exits and what happens (whilst at the same time having a place
to play football where they can kick the ball as hard as possible but
not have to walk anywhere to get it back). You can probably imagine
how they feel when a bunch of cyclists show up and start riding round
in circles on their court (some of them do just want to try it out –
they like playing games with their friends too or they wouldn’t be

However, the local residents who don’t use the court generally see us
as a desirable group to have around. Despite drinking and shouting
into the night, we keep the place clean, maintain the actual courts,
make sure things like floodlights are on and provide an obvious adult
presence in spaces where people can feel vulnerable at night. Sure,
they have been some bad encounters with gangs of kids, but then there
have also been local residents that saw us clearing the courts of snow
and went home to make us a snow shovel. Sure there have been riots in
London, but in their wake the community took to the streets to clean

London is getting back to normal post-riots. There are still the husks
of burned out shops but there are also people donating money to local
businesses to help them get back on their feet. As we head into the
winter and the 4th season of the London League, our courts will be
getting used more and more as teams fit the league schedule around
regular nights. It will no doubt be interesting to see whether
tensions between groups of court users are affected.

-This Article submitted by new contributor James Black



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