Parish council orders basketball court closed after complaints from neighbors, but there is a group of players who cannot accept defeat

When a basketball hits the floor or backboard, the sound it makes can have two meanings: a joy for a player trying to score a basket or a torture for anyone trying to rest their head.

This conflict of interests caused by the 632-gram orange ball lasted for seven years on a Laranjeiras field, in Lisbon, built at the foot of some residential buildings and which, when it was inaugurated, was praised by the Association Lisbon Basketball Association as an excellent example of promoting sport and healthy living. In May 2024, the current president of the Parish Council of São Domingos de Benfica agreed with those who complained about the noise of the ball and ordered the two basketball courts to be dismantled. and korfball, which attract practitioners of these two sports throughout the week, especially on Saturday and Sunday.

“I would never have built the field there. It was a mistake,” explains José da Câmara, elected in 2021 by the Novos Tempos Coalition, led by the PSD and the CDS. “Decisions never please everyone, but I had to decide this way because I listened to the residents and most of them complained about the noise of the ball, the loud music and the swearing.â€

David Rego was a federated basketball player in his youth and still plays with his friends to keep fit and have fun. “We have a group that got together in Laranjeiras because not only is the course in Lisbon, but also because the floor is one of the few that isn’t painted and we don’t slip. I played there for several years and never heard a complaint about noise or disrespect. Anything. And it’s hard for me that the first measure is to close the camp. Is this how you promote sport?â€

He and a group of more than thirty “mostly senior†players wrote an open letter to the president of the Board to try to reverse the situation: “What better formula for well-being and example can we wish for than young people? on the street practicing sport in a healthy and peaceful way? What example as a society do we set for our young people, when the existing safe and recreational spaces, which bring together young people and seniors around a common purpose, are destroyed without plausible justification?â€

“We live in hell here, that’s the truth,†complains Carlos Prata, retired, who lives in one of the buildings next to the fields where the ball no longer bounces. “The worst was at the weekend. They were there from morning to night. The sound of the ball hitting was torture and then the loud music, the swearing. You couldn’t rest. I even had to call the police, but it was only now that this was resolved.â€

In 2017, the camps did not exist. “It was a wasteland with a net. There had already been fields but everything was degraded,†says António Cardoso, president of the Board in 2017 who decided to recover the fields. “The investment was relatively low, a few thousand euros and attracted a lot of young people from an early age. It is true that there were protests from residents, but it was a minority. They were always the same and when they went to the Parish Assembly they were always defeated. I consider it a mistake to have dismantled the camps because of protests from a minority.â€

Carlos Rego says that the fields attracted “since always†young “black†people who live in the neighborhoods near Laranjeiras. “I don’t want to believe that it was because of this that there were complaints, because we never witnessed disrespect, an argument or anything. The noise was that of young people playing sports. Nothing more than that.â€

And now? “Now we are going to build a children’s and fitness park at that location. We will spend around ten thousand euros and I hope to have the necessary authorizations in June,” says José da Câmara. “And we are going to build new basketball courts in Parque Bensaúde, in a place where there are some old houses. We don’t yet know how much it will cost or when it will be ready.â€

Expresso contacted the Lisbon City Council to obtain the president’s position on this case and the cost of all operations but received no response.


Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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