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Caroline is a Mum to all her players

10:06 31 July 2014

Newham's Caroline Charles has been honoured for her work at the London Youth Games

Newham's Caroline Charles has been honoured for her work at the London Youth Games

Archant

Deserved long-service award for Newham basketball coach

Charles’ dedication was crowned just a few weeks ago with a gold medal in the girls basketball event and she has now been honoured by the Youth Games committee for her outstanding contribution with a special reception at the House of Commons.

“It came out of nowhere,” said a decidedly chuffed Charles.

“Someone at Newham phoned me up to ask how long I had been coaching the team and I thought it was just for their files. Then I was invited to the House of Commons, I was absolutely delighted.”

Charles was just one of a host of volunteers who were honoured in parliament.

It is testament to her dedication over the years and it is something she is not intending to give up.

“When you think of all the girls that I have coached over the years it is remarkable,” said Charles, who also runs the Newham Youngbloods basketball team.

“I try to help them put some discipline into their lives and set themselves life targets for them to follow and it seems to help them achieve.”

It certainly does. Two of her young charges have gone on to play basketball in the United States.

Shanice Norton has been playing university basketball in Florida for four years now, while Caroline’s daughter Amber also played in the States and now teaches autistic children.

“Being involved with the London Youth Games has been a fantastic job that I take so much pride in,” she said.

“Newham has excellent history in basketball and we are looking to continue that.”

The team has won bronzes and silvers in the past, but this time round proved golden. So what is the secret behind their success?

It is a simple one. Charles added: “A girl came to me the other day and asked if she could join my team because she looked on me as a mother figure and I think that is so important.

“I try to make the girls feel safe and to be a mother to them if they need it and that gives them a lot more confidence in themselves.”

With England junior Brenda Kipewu now too old to compete at the Youth Games, it is time for Charles to build another team.

“I don’t think we will win gold next year as the team will mostly be there for the first time. Hopefully they can surprise a few teams and do really well,” she said.

“We will be working hard to do that and I plan to inspire more Newham females into the sport.”

With someone like that to guide you, how could they possibly fail?

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