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Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal players expected to feature for Haringey in London Youth Games
1:05pm Tuesday 15th May 2012 in Local Sport
Basketball might be Haringey’s bread and butter at the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games but team leader Burk Gravis insists it is the football pitch where the borough will shine this year.
With NBA star Pops Mensah-Bonsu among Haringey’s alumni, as well as racking up ten straight girls basketball titles between 2001 and 2010, the borough have grown accustomed to success on the court.
Last year saw Haringey’s girls have to settle for silver though, as Southwark knocked them off their perch for the first time in a decade - the same colour medal they ended up with in the female football.
But, while setting his sights on taking Haringey back to the top step of the basketball podium, Gravis is adamant with the aid of Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal they can win football gold.
"We are historically strong in basketball but this year we look good in other sports too, like athletics where we have some good runners coming through," said Gravis.
"But the one we are perhaps most looking forward to is the football, both boys and girls, and we think we have a pretty good chance there.
"Tottenham Ladies manager Karen Hills has been really helpful this year and has provided coaching for those involved.
"We are normally pretty strong in the ladies side of things because we have players from Tottenham and Arsenal Ladies getting involved so hopefully we can prove we have more than just basketball."
When Haringey re-entered the London Youth Games in 1996, Gravis was only able to put together six different teams.
However now he overlooks close to 50 and insists the hype of this summer’s Olympics can be felt among those youngsters signing up.
"In terms of the borough itself the London Youth Games has always been the pinnacle of our year so I wouldn’t say the Olympics has had a massive effect," he added.
"But for the young people it is obviously having an effect as the excitement is starting to build and it is great to see."
Balfour Beatty have agreed to support the London Youth Games through to at least 2015, meaning £1.1m worth of funding post-2012 and a total contribution of £2.5m since 2007.