Culture vulture

31st October 2003 at 00:00
Andrew Bailey can't get enough basketball - or hip-hop

Highlight of the year

I love the Rough and Ready under-25s basketball tournament in Brixton, south London, every July; I played in the first ever tournament 10 years ago. Today's young players have a lot of style; they are very athletic and there's a lot of fancy action above the rim of the net. This event is also where I keep up with music. Up-and-coming hip-hop, soul and Ramp;B bands come on and play at half-time, groups like Damage and Dynamite.

Best film ever

It has to be Gina Prince-Bythewood's Love and Basketball (2000), in which the girl, not the boy, makes it to the premier league.

Best book ever

I like to read novels that will take me into a different world. John Grisham's books are page-turners that open your eyes to dirty doings in the legal profession. The Firm is the best; the suspense is so great.

Best treat for students

I saw Puremovement, Renee Harris's radical hip-hop troupe, which originated on the streets of Philadelphia, at London's Peacock Theatre, performing dances like "Student and the Asphalt Jungle", fast and full of spins. Greig academy students who are into street dance meet up at the weekends for body-popping and breakdancing, challenging other dance groups. It's good to show them something that's part of their culture, but taken a lot further.

I'm interested in anything that can show students just how far they can go if they work at it.

When I started my career I won a scholarship to New Jersey, and my dream was to make it to the NBA (National Basketball Association, the American premier league). But although I was exceptional in England, I had to accept I was never going to make it to the top in the US. A sporting career is so brief - an injury can stop you at any time. You need something to fall back on. My students will know that their studies have to back their game.

Andrew Bailey, 35 (pictured), a former professional basketball player for England and for clubs including Brixton Top Cats, London Towers and Stuttgart, has joined Greig city academy in the London borough of Haringey as a full-time teaching assistant and basketball coach. He was talking to Elaine Williams

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