The love of basketball can be expressed in many ways. There is the love for the game itself and its urban cousin streetball that make people pick up a ball. In some instances it is the love for a hometown and its community that makes people want to take action. And in very special cases it can be all of the above plus an emotional connection to certain beaten down basketball courts.
In the city of Frankfurt am Main, Germany, two basketball courts such as this are located right at the doorstep of the European Central Bank (Europäische Zentralbank, EZB). It's a twin court set-up with an all-around metal fence that reminds ballers of legendary Rucker Park ‘Cage’ in New York. But in stark contrast to "The Rucker" these two courts have holes in the ground and other blemishes that make a regular game of basketball next to impossible. At the very least, whoever steps between these lines knows the risk of falling and getting injured is very real. The absence of light poles around the courts also means that as soon as it gets dark, playtime is over. And holding a tournament with any spectators is out of the question due to the lack of bleachers and stands.
But help is on the way. KICKZ has joined forces with EZBBASKETBALL (short EZBB) to help bring these courts back to life.
EZBB was launched by Thorsten "Thordi" De Souza and Philipp "Waldbrand" Wollrab as a non-profit organization to give Frankfurt's streetball community a voice and a clear goal: Give the Hafenpark courts a full and complete makeover and make it the new home for all ballers in ‘Mainhatten’. Male and female, young and old, beginners and pros.
But where to begin? After getting in contact with the city of Frankfurt and Mayor Peter Feldmann, Thordi and Waldbrand identified the first point to be scratched off the list had to be lights. “The night lights not only enable sporting activities in the evening hours, but also contribute significantly to a redefined sense of security, especially for women, which was not previously present in Hafenpark”, explains Thordi. “We already secured full funding for the lights. All we need is the city’s ‘GO’ signal.”
As for the rest of the six-figure funding that is needed to rebuild the courts in an ecologically sound manner, an anonymous main sponsor has vowed to provide whatever is needed, which includes new surface, hoops and spectator stands. “It makes more sense to tear down the whole thing and start from scratch”, says Thordi. “The entire design of Hafenpark’s basketball facility is wrong from the ground up and not designed by streetball experts. We want to do it right this time.”
With a desired grand opening date of August 2022, the time to act is now and all eyes are on the city of Frankfurt to provide the permit for the work to start. When finished, the new EZBB courts would be the first of their kind in Germany. Fully lit basketball courts that would allow players to battle it out until 10:00 pm when the lights go out to not disturb flora, fauna and neighbors.
At KICKZ we are extremely happy and proud to lend our resources and knowledge to this project. Increasing basketball's popularity in the world and especially in Germany has always been one of our main goals. At the same time we are very aware of the desolate condition a lot of the already few streetball courts are in. We hope with our engagement in the EZBB project we can help to make these old basketball courts shine again and we would be delighted to use the facility for future grassroots activations.
Working together with EZBB in this and future endeavors stresses our commitment to support the ever-growing streetball community in Germany and is a stepping stone for a pan-european streetball network that is needed to give the sport finally the platform it deserves.
60314 Frankfurt am Main