Ken and Di: We’ve had a ball!
AFTER chalking up 100 years of basketball coaching, two of Royston s most distinguished figures have retired from the sport. Ken and Di Charles hung up their whistles last week and said an emotional goodbye at a farewell presentation held at Royston Leis
AFTER chalking up 100 years of basketball coaching, two of Royston's most distinguished figures have retired from the sport.
Ken and Di Charles hung up their whistles last week and said an emotional goodbye at a farewell presentation held at Royston Leisure Centre to celebrate all they had achieved in the game.
Di said: "It was a wonderful surprise and it was the perfect way to say goodbye. It was a tough decision to retire, but one we have made together. Hopefully it's a decision that will encourage others to get involved."
Over the years mini-basketball has almost become synonymous with the Charles name, with Ken's influence spreading from Royston to right across the globe.
He has helped train thousands of teachers and coaches, and brought the game of basketball and mini-basketball to millions of youngsters. He founded the successful Corvus Cornix Basketball Club and is responsible for inspiring a number of international players.
Over the years Ken has also been the Emeritus President of England Basketball, the mini-basketball England secretary and the FIBA mini-basketball President.
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Ken said: "I have been very fortunate and believe that I was just in the right place at the right time.
"Over the years we have given a lot of young people the opportunity to enjoy the game and develop their talent.
"Anyone who wanted to has been able to get involved and that's what it has all been about - getting youngsters to play."
Ken said they will take many happy memories, and highlighted the founding of the Corvus Cornix BC as the most special.
He moved to Royston in 1968 to become the head of Hertfordshire's first middle school - Greneway - and the school thrived under his leadership and commitment to sport.
"When I moved here, there was no evidence of basketball. I'd seen how it had progressed in other areas and wanted to introduce the sport to Royston," said Ken.
Since then the sport has blossomed in and around the town, with Greneway and Corvus Cornix BC producing a number of highly talented youngsters and successful teams.
At 75, Ken's longevity in the sport is unrivalled and head of PE at Greneway, Terry Graves described the couple as "legends of the game".
He added: "If these two inspirational people do not deserve being celebrated then no one does.
"They have given the sport and our community so much, making a difference to so many people. Their passion will be greatly missed!"
Di has also been described as the glue that has held their basketball club together and has been instrumental in mini-basketball on a local, national and international scale.
She said: "It's been great to be involved with so much, and I will miss the lot - especially working with the little ones.
"Between us we have 100 years of teaching and coaching experience and I think the key has been sharing the same philosophies, and we have worked extremely well together."
Ken said: "I think when we started we really couldn't have dreamed all that has happened. Helping people realise their ambitions and being able to watch their development has really kept us going."
Ken is also the driving force behind the Royston and District Sports Council and was awarded an MBE and an Order of Merit for his long standing service.
"The Order of Merit is the highest accolade that you can be given in the world of basketball - it was an absolute honour and a moment I will never forget," said Ken.
Ken and Di will continue behind the scenes of the basketball club and the England mini-basketball league, and both remain confident that their retirement will encourage others to become more hands-on.
Di also highlighted that their retirement will give them the opportunity to do a bit of travelling.
She said: "I think our retirement will benefit the club and hopefully someone else can take it to even further heights.
"It's sad but it gives us the chance to visit some of the friends we have made, and at some point we hope to go to Australia and New Zealand."
Ken said: "We have helped millions of young people and given them the opportunity to enjoy basketball, which was not the case all those years ago - I can leave feeling very positive.