Southwark school basketball team bounces back with a triumph in women’s national playoffs

Despite a challenging year of Covid restrictions, one Southwark basketball team has bounced back better than ever.

City of London Academy Southwark (CoLAS) Women’s Team returned to the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL1) Finals for the first time since 2016/17 after a phenomenal season rising to second place with a late run of results.

CoLAS came through a tough semi-final against Loughborough Riders team to triumph 64-50.

The teams top scorers included Beeban Jikiemi-Pearon, 14, scoring a season high, Molly Lavin, 14, and Emilie Black, 10, putting in great performances.

Jackson Gibbons, who is the Director of Basketball at City of London Academy, said: “When I reflect back on this season I can’t help but focus on the amazing support we have had from the Academy and SLT, to safely allow us to keep basketball going during one of the toughest times in history.

“The team plays in a very competitive league of which they are by far the youngest and least experienced team, however they’re tough and driven by the Academy’s core values.

“This has played a huge part in their journey to the finals and for the support I am eternally grateful.

“Whatever happens on Saturday this season has been a huge success, these young ladies have done the Academy, their community and themselves extremely proud.”

Jackson Gibbons with the team during a time out. Photo via Basketball England

Mike Baxter, Principal of The City of London Academy, said: “Our women’s basketball team is a beacon of excellence within the academy; they demonstrate what hard work, resilience and commitment can achieve.

“The whole of CoLA is utterly behind them and wish them success in the final. Bring it home.”

The teams coach, Mr Gibbons, also saw his hard work acknowledged by winning the Wilson Coach of the Year 2020/21.

Anthony Brosnan, City of London Academy Vice Principal (Curriculum Impact and Sixth Form) said: “Jackson is a phenomenal coach, as I am sure anyone that knows his work will agree, but what he does day in, day out goes beyond creating a cohesive, well-drilled, highly conditioned and successful elite women’s team.

“I have been awed by his dedication to the personal as well as athletic development of each and everyone of his players, whether they are destined for a scholarship in the US or going onto university or an apprenticeship in the UK.

“Coach Jackson is a man of great integrity and compassion.

“He cares deeply about the young people he works with and his work epitomises the transformational power that sport can have on young people. particularly those that have faced real adversity in their lives.

“He works tirelessly and inspires everyone that he works with, students, colleagues and myself included! He is also a very humble man and whilst he will be finding this description very uncomfortable, Jackson these are true words!”

City of London Basketball Academy, is one of only 16 schools in England and Wales to run the Basketball-England accredited DiSE programme.



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