Ali Abucar Ali

‘Be Like Ali’: The Coach Ali Foundation of the Chiswick Gators

A local school basketball team in Chiswick has started a charity foundation in the hopes of growing grassroots basketball in London, continuing the ideals of their late coach and player.

Founder Michael Kwentoh, 41, is the coach of the Chiswick Gators, a basketball club in Chiswick that fields multiple youth teams from the ages of six to 18.

After the tragic passing of his former player and fellow coach, Ali Abucar Ali, back in November, Kwentoh decided to create the “Coach Ali Foundation”.

The “Coach Ali Foundation” has the aim of supporting young people that are interested in basketball and teaching them everything from the basics to other areas about the sport.

Beyond just playing basketball, it seeks to improve interest for coaching, officiating, administration as some of many ways to get involved with their love of basketball.

Eventually those supported by the foundation start to give back what they received to other young kids, expanding the love of the game at a grassroots level and spreading the joy of following an interest to other kids.

Kwentoh said: “There’s always some way a young person can make an impact at a grassroot level club, you know, away from playing.

“So the foundation is set up to help young people still be involved in basketball from on the court to off the court.”

Kwentoh explained the inspiration came from listening to Ali’s mother on the day after her son’s passing.

She had asked all those who came to visited her about what parts of Ali they admired and that they could learn from.

Kwentoh thought: “What was it about Ali that I can take from him and take into myself?”

This thought eventually gave birth to the charity itself, represented by its slogan: “Be more Ali”.

Kwentoh said how Ali’s influence was clearly felt by everyone, as he was described as a peacemaker who never took sides, and made sure both parties came away happy.

His dedication to the team was said to be second to none, not only as a player but as a coach.

By the age of 16, Ali took on the responsibility of doing coaching for the Gators while focusing on school.

One of Kwentoh’s fondest memories of Ali was when his student was 16 and the Gators had just won against their opposition.

Two seasons prior to then, Ali and the team kept losing, yet were always back in the gym, ready to learn and practice.

One of the opposition players was frustrated in the changing rooms, claiming that the team was rubbish and that he would find a better team.

Ali had overheard this and came up to his opponent and told him that he’d laugh if he knew how bad they used to be.

All the while, Kwentoh overheard the conversation by the bleachers, as his student was convincing a fellow youth to not quit on his team and keep going, even if it was his opponent.

The “Coach Ali Foundation” not only reflects Ali but also Kwentoh’s coaching philosophy, having dedicated himself to teaching grassroots basketball as a career.

He explained that a coach’s job is to help grow and develop a youth’s interest and confidence.

By helping with even a small skill, they become more confident not just in their game but also feel more empowered as a person.

He said: “That’s the reward there in itself, in being able to empower a young person to feel more confident.”

Ali is still fondly remembered beyond the Gators and the foundation, with multiple murals across the whole of Chiswick School and Sports Centre in his memory.

Chiswick School have also dedicated a special award to Ali, called the “Ali Abucar Award”, awarded to a pupil who devotes time to extracurricular sport activities while representing the school and treating all with respect.

The foundation can be supported in various ways; from donations to volunteering to spreading awareness of the cause. Donations are used to fund courses for the youths in subjects that can allow them to give back the same knowledge and passion to the next child, just as they did.

This goes into coaching, officiating, administrative work, social media training among the many areas of qualifications.

The Chiswich Gators can be contacted through social media, their website or email: [email protected]

Featured image credit courtesy of Mike Kwentoh and the Coach Ali Foundation

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Owen Turner
Owen Turner
12 October 2022 12:53 pm

Thank you for this article

Glenn Gregorio
Glenn Gregorio
11 October 2022 12:57 pm

Thank you coach

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