Top basketball player urges Lambeth Council to allow former coach to stay in Brixton home


Chicago Bull’s player Luol Deng is supporting Olympic hero Jimmy Rogers


By Sam Morgan

An all-star basketball player in America has lent his support to his former Lambeth coach who faces eviction from his home of over 30 years.

Luol Deng, who plays for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, urged Lambeth Council to let Brixton Topcats coach and Olympic hero Jimmy Rogers, 73, remain in his Brixton residence.

The council want to reclaim the shortlife housing that was offered to people throughout the 1980s and 1990s on a temporary basis because it is now worth as much as £2million.

“Jimmy Rogers embodies the community spirit in this part of London and has done for decades,” said Julian Hall of Lambeth United Housing Co-Operative.

“Meanwhile, Lambeth Council seem intent on destroying communities that have existed in the borough for longer than some of their councillors have been alive.”

Deng, 28, a British citizen since 2006 after fleeing what is now South Sudan as a child, wrote a letter to the council saying how important Mr Rogers is to the area.

He said: “Jimmy is Brixton. He has done so much for the community helping thousands of kids get off the streets and do something constructive with their lives.

“He is known as someone who gives back, who helps. For the community not to give back to him for the only time he needs something is just wrong.”

Mr Rogers, who discovered Deng’s talents and has been coaching the Topcats since 1981, had his eviction delayed last Tuesday, less than 24 hours before bailiffs were due to arrive.

He was winner of a borough-wide civic award in 2005, awarded to him by the same council that now wish to deprive him of his Shannon Grove home.

A spokesperson for Lambeth Council said: “Over a long period of time our staff have been working hard to find Mr Rogers alternative accommodation.

“We have made him a number of offers, but these have been refused. Mr Rogers has only recently begun to engage with us fully, and we are pleased we can now constructively explore the options.”

The council hope to use potential proceeds to improve roads and schools and fund new homes in the area.

An online petition was set up by Lambeth United Housing Co-Operative last Friday to stop the recall of the shortlife housing and has now attracted almost 200 signatures.

Mr Rogers has been strongly backed by Kate Hoey, the Labour MP for Lambeth, who praised the voluntary work he has done and his invaluable help to the community.

“I urge the council to change its policy of selling off council homes and to make Jimmy Rogers a tenant of his home of over 30 years,” said.

“Jimmy has been an inspirational coach and mentor to thousands of young people in Brixton and elsewhere. He pioneered the scholarships for talented basketball players to go to American universities.”

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison, with thanks.

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