Midnight Basketball Team – A pathway to Australian Sport


I want to play for a team and this is a good
chance. I’ve always wanted to play for a
basketball team.
Midnight Basketball is a program that has
run in the Northern Hemisphere for a long,
long time very successfully.
We found out about it and brought it into
Redfern in Sydney about five years ago and
subsequently expanded it around the country.
You get to play basketball until midnight
and, just like, it’s a great fitness sport.
I think it just helps integrate them young
people from diverse cultural backgrounds
into the area and gets them accustomed to
some of our cultures here and the way we run
day to day.
When I arrived in Australia it was really
cold. It was really different from Africa
because Africa is really hot. In Africa they
have a lot of war and criminals there.
Some of these guys have come from pretty hard
sorts of backgrounds so something like this
helps them fit in that little bit easier and
breaks down a lot of barriers I guess.
It makes it a lot of fun and I think that’s
the best way they can join into the community
anyway.
I heard from my friend so we decided to do
it (join Midnight Basketball) for fun and
just catch up on a Friday night.
Basically we got a group of guys together
involving some police officers, some local
councilors and those sorts of people. I think
they really saw the need for this particular
program in this area particularly it being
a very multicultural sort of area.
One night my brother came home after midnight
and told me about it. I didn’t know it was
on but after he told me about it I was interested
in trying out.
One of my teachers told me that there was
Midnight Basketball happening so I was interested
because I like basketball. So I give it try
and I really like it.
One of my friends told me that there was basketball
going on so I was very excited. I wanted to
see how they were going and how they play and then I
came.
I made a lot of friends as you can see
It helps with my skill at basketball. Getting along
with people
Besides coming in and working with them they are tremdously
talented kids. Often these kids are very athletic.
Much more importantly from a mentoring perspective there is
so much that these kids are missing our on it their lives
lots of little things like if you are going to move into a
stage which we call job readiness
there are lots of things that you need to be able to do like
meet someone look them in the eye shake their hand
feel like they are not looking through you. Feel like they
are addressing you and that’s a confidence thing to.
but it’s also a life skill
It was really hard because we had to get used
to a new culture and the way that people live here.
Here in Australia is different from where
I come from. Here we’ve got to go to school
and then get a good job.
Probably transport is the most difficult for
them especially when they are fairly new to
the country. That’s probably the big thing
that they struggle with so buses are very
important in getting them to and from the
venue.
The other one can be some of their family
customs -issues they may have at home. (I
found from here at the venue) obviously cost
is the big thing that can factor programs.
We find that with all the barriers that get
raised, confidence is the big one.
If these kids can feel like they can adhere
to the discipline requirements in this very
structured environment they can move so easily
into community sport which is a terrific outcome.
I couldn’t speak English. I couldn’t understand
what people were saying and I couldn’t communicate
with other people.
Some of the kids in particular find it hard
to (get forms) signed at home. With the forms
generally printed in English some of them
have to get translation for some of the forms
so sometimes it can be a two or three week
period where we have to constantly remind
players ‘hey we need your forms – parents
or guardians to fill those out and get them
back to us’.
Actually my mum can’t speak English. That
will mean that you will have to contact me
so then I can tell my mum what is going on.
Then I can explain back to you what she says.
My mum doesn’t like me going out much but
after she knew it was basketball she said
I could come and I also come with my brother
which helps.
Parent’s support is definitely a big factor.
A lot of them have to bring the kids into
the venue. So getting them here and even the
support throughout the evening (for the ones
that are coming in) helping out with things
like scoring or even helping drive buses home
and that sort of thing is big, big help.
Midnight Basketball is a free program and
we provide buses home for everyone to their
front door. This is something that needs to
be addressed through things like car pooling.
Getting to know the parents – how do you get
to know them? How do you offer? There’s
lots of car pooling between people who know
each other in communities and I think that’s
a really important barrier to try and address
and be as practical as you can because it’s
a big issue.
As far as how we actually target the kids,
try and talk to council, try and talk to youth
liaisons officers, local police, different
cultural groups. There are lots of community
service organisations who will be involved
with these groups and kids so get their advice.
Food is also another important element of
Midnight Basketball. Dinner is actually provided
because we don’t want anyone to be hungry.
It is also a great inclusionary way of bringing
in people from the community.
We sit down at the start of the term with
the Midnight Basketballers and they write
the code of conduct. We facilitate the process
but they write it.
It is actually really, really important if
you are going to get a diverse group of kids
across your community to get involved in the
program that you are running that they take
ownership of it.
Let the parents know that it’s something
to do with basketball not just the kids hanging
around at night. Yeh just let the parents
know beforehand.
Be as welcoming as you can. Not patronising
but welcoming.
There are a lot of preconceived ideas especially
about some of the new arrivals.
I think until you actually have close dealings
with them and see how good a people they really
are – they’re beautiful people with some
of the stuff that they come out and do.
(They are) very friendly so you have just
got to get them involved and the rewards overall
are enormous apart from some of them are actually
fantastic athletes.
They’ll benefit your club in every single
way anyway.
Sport is the most terrific structure to bring
people together and we would say to all these
people who are volunteers that they (the participants)
get so much out of it. They tell us in such
great heartfelt ways the meaning that sport
is to their lives.
Helping kids in the community – we just encourage
you to go ahead and do it.
I always thought that I wasn’t good enough
to join a team and that’s why I never joined
a team before. I actually want to give it
a try now.

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