I recently spoke to one of our Deaf friends at Lewisham church: Leslie Philip, who I found to not only be on this year’s championship team for Deaf Basketball in the UK but is also an accomplished and experienced sailor and artist. Quite a lot for one person!

Justin:
Hi Leslie. You’re a part of the ‘London Beards’ Deaf Basketball team, recent champions of the Deaf Basketball league. I didn’t even know there were deaf basketball teams! Can you tell me about it and how you got to be a part of it?

Leslie:
Back home in Grenada I didn’t really know about basketball. I used to play football and cricket. I was never interested in basketball but at school one day in P.E. class, a friend passed a ball to me and when I passed it back well, a teacher noted that I had done it well. I just started playing and practicing after that and kept at it. At school they were proud of me as the deaf boy on the team. I wasn’t good at first but continued and as time went on I improved. Sometimes though, when I played with hearing players they made fun of me because of my deafness. Over time I improved and joined a hearing team and continued to get better.
After I moved to London I played in both hearing and deaf teams. I’m good but getting old now so you know… [laughter]

Justin:
You seem to be quite a sportsman. Football and cricket first, then basketball. How long have you been playing basketball?

 

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Leslie:
Since I was 17.

Justin:
Ah, OK. So you’ve been playing for a few years then. How did you get to play for the London Beards?

Leslie:
I saw the team mentioned online. I applied and they responded. They had trials and I went to see if I was good enough. There was only one team in London, The London Lions and they played in a hearing league. We used to get beaten all the time but we improved. We worked hard and after a while we didn’t get beaten so much! They said “Those Deaf guys are getting better!”. I enjoyed being on the team but there were quite a few disagreements and after a while I transferred to a new team, The London Beards. It’s good because now there are teams in different places, not just one.

Justin:
You’re part of the winning/championship team for this year. How does that feel?

Leslie:
I feel proud but I knew I’d win! Sometimes people play for fun or just in the park but when you are playing professionally you have to keep encouraging yourself and telling yourself ‘I’m good!’ ‘I’m good!’. That’s what makes the difference.

 

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Justin:
I also know that you like sailing. I hope you don’t mind me saying, but you’re the only person I know who sails, Deaf or hearing. Can you tell me about it?

 
Leslie:
When I was growing up I always liked the sea and sailing and I used to enjoy making boats out of coconut shells and sailing them on ponds. I used to love sailing them all day. In Carriacou, where I grew up, I used to have to take boats between the small islands in Grenada and knew that one day I’d be a sailor. I loved being on the boats. When I came to England I saw a poster encouraging disabled people to go sailing and I contacted them and took it from there. I’ve been sailing a while now and I have sailed to a lot of places all around England.

Justin:
How often do you go sailing?

Leslie:
As often as I can. And every Tuesday I volunteer. One of the places I volunteer with is Tideway Sailability whom I have been associated with for over five years. That organisation aims to give sailing experiences to vulnerable adults and children. As an experienced volunteer I am a RYA (Royal Yacht Association) qualified safety boat driver and also a qualified first aider. I also engage in model boat sailing and race with Clapham Model Yacht Club. They are one of the oldest model sailing clubs in the country and the only club in South London.

 

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Justin:
That’s very interesting! I also know that you like painting. Can you tell me about your art?

Leslie:
I have been painting for many years and enjoy it. I have had my work exhibited in exhibitions. Some of my other friends who used to paint have given up and even though I don’t paint as much anymore I still do it.

 

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Justin:
Yes, I’ve seen that you have been painting quite a while now, since you were a teenager. I was reading that you’ve exhibited both in your native Grenada as well as other countries such as Barbados, and you’ve even held a one-man exhibition. It must be exciting to know that your paintings hang in the homes of many different owners, even the past Governer-General of Grenada, Sir Daniel Williams. Congratulations on being such a decorated artist. You’ve won many awards such as from the Grenada Arts Council award and the Grenda Independence award. Well done!

Justin:
Is there anything else you want to say and let people know?

Leslie:
Only that the Deaf can do anything and accomplish just like hearing people.

Justin:
Thanks very much, Leslie!


London Beard Deaf Basketball Team

Clapham Model Yacht Club

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Leslie winning second place in the Woolverstone Alton Water Access Traveller series on October 8 2014.

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Some of the many awards Leslie has won over the years for his sailing and art.