MIDNIGHT Basketball is coming to Ballarat. The program aims to engage at-risk youth on Friday and Saturday nights, offering a purpose and motivation to lead healthier lives.
(min cost $8)
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The catch: no workshop, no jumpshots.
Midnight Basketball has structure. Players start with a hot, nutritious meal before compulsory workshops covering essential life skills. Then, and only then, players hit the floor until midnight in tournament play with qualified referees.
Basketball Ballarat, City of Ballarat, Victoria Police, Headspace and the region’s youth employment, learning and support bodies have banded together to launch the program, which is set for tip-off at St Patrick’s College in the next school term.
Midnight Basketball Australia chief executive officer Tess White said if the program was well run, it would have a wait list – and she was confident Ballarat would have players waiting on the sidelines.
“One of the most asked questions we get is why youth would want to participate in such a program. It is a strict program...structure is a teenager’s friend,” Ms White said. “We don’t reinvent the sport. We don’t dumb it down. This is basketball with great facilities and great referees. if you want to play, you have to do the life skills workshops.”
Ms White said the program, launched in the Sydney suburb of Redfern, had proven a pathway for youth into the game and offered a community connection. Basketball offered inclusion, leadership, team work, fitness and focus on the floor. Aimed for males and females aged 12 to 18, Ms White said the program had been met in Ballarat with phenomenal support.
Ballarat mayor Des Hudson, a policeman with extensive experience working with youth, said the pilot program would give this city’s youth a taste of what was possible.
“This is a great opportunity for young people to participate in safe activity on Friday and Saturday nights. Those times are traditionally when they’d be out with each other and tend to take increased risks,” Cr Hudson said. “This is about sport and health and I’m rapt the initiative is coming to Ballarat.”
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