Help vital in Midnight Basketball’s key game in Ballarat

ACTION: Midnight Basketball is run nationwide to help engage at-risk youth. Basketball Ballarat is calling on the community to volunteer and help make the competition viable.

ACTION: Midnight Basketball is run nationwide to help engage at-risk youth. Basketball Ballarat is calling on the community to volunteer and help make the competition viable.

BOOMING numbers for youth engagement program Midnight Basketball is putting a strain on Ballarat volunteers. The third installment of the holistic national program is over-subscribed with more than 80 players showing up for last week’s first session and the program has a 60-player cap.

Midnight Basketball Ballarat chairman Mark Valentine said it was fantastic so many young people wanted to be involved, but he was concerned the demand would burn out a thin volunteer base.

Mr Valentine said the program was already proving successful, evident in participant demand and, importantly, in learning participants were taking up community leadership roles or getting involved in organised sports.

But the competition needed volunteers to help make it best work.

“It’s actually tough to send out emails to a few players to say we can’t have them in this program – you want to make sure you get it right,” Mr Valentine said.

“For some kids, it’s just an extra night of basketball, but for others it’s really important all-round. It’s a hard call.

“I’ve seen a couple of kids now part of the youth network or in leadership roles at school….It’s nice to know we play a small part of giving those kids a leg up and opportunity for what other kids take for granted.”

Mr Valentine said any extra hands would be appreciated on the volunteer roster for the eight-week program, which runs each Friday night at St Patrick’s College until June 30.

Midnight Basketball is predominantly aimed for at-risk youth. Participants must attend compulsory workshops and eat a hot, nutritious meal before tournament-style games. They are then driven home by midnight.

The program is run nationwide for youth aged 12 to 18, to build skills, like teamwork and confidence

Basketball Ballarat chief executive officer Peter Eddy said the association was keen to keep driving and managing the program for the community but needed support in return to make it viable.

Volunteers can register online at midnightbasketball.org.au/ballarat.