Tiger Tim visits Wandsworth youth centre to open rooftop basketball court

Tennis ace Tim Henman officially opened a new rooftop football and basketball court at the Devas Youth Club in Battersea.

The six-time Grand Slam semi-finalist gave a tennis masterclass with the youngsters, played ping-pong, pool and basketball as well as taking in two dance performances.

Henman, who will be reprising his commentary role with the BBC at this year’s Wimbledon Championships, said: “I’m in the process of relaunching my charity foundation and the areas that I’m targeting are education, health and welfare and to hear about the work that the Devas club has been doing is fantastic.

“These are exactly the type of places I want to try and help moving forward. I think one of the important things is about giving kids the opportunity to try different sports, sometimes they don’t always have those chances.”

Self-described sports fanatic Henman, now 40, is also a keen golfer playing off a +1 handicap and while he was all smiles his natural competitive side occasionally shone through as he thrashed one of the Devas youngsters at pool!

Throughout the evening the former world number four happily posed for countless photos and signed numerous autographs, before giving a brief speech at the end of the evening officially declaring the new rooftop court open.

henman pool

In his speech he gave a special mention to Devas Club senior youth worker Josie Benson, who raised £5,000 for the club after competing in one of the world’s toughest endurance marathons last year.

Mother-of-two Josie said: “It’s wonderful to get someone like Tim in to help promote the club.

“He’s an absolutely charming guy and it is wonderful to have him here and it has probably been really inspiring for the young people here.”

Last November Josie came fifth overall and first out of the women in the Jungle Marathon in South America where she had  to run, swim and trek over 290km through the Amazon rainforest.

She is proud of how inclusive the club is and while it is clearly a place for youngsters to come and enjoy themselves, the club tries to make sure it is not all just fun and games by striving to help the young members find careers.

“At Devas Club we try and provide opportunities for young people, try and get them interested in something and then try and encourage them to take it further,” Josie said.

“For instance, if they are interested in cooking we try and get them to think about maybe starting up their own cafe and earning a bit of money from it, or if they are interested in sport then like we try and get them onto the gym instructor course.”

Josie, who played a prominent role in organising the event, estimated the club had raised around £500 from Henman’s visit.

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