NIGHT MOVES: Young people having fun at Grafton Midnight Basketball. Photo: Adam Hourigan
NIGHT MOVES: Young people having fun at Grafton Midnight Basketball. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Basketball teaches health

IT HAD been about 10 years since I had hit the basketball court - but it was still shameful to be given the run-around by a pint-size 10-year-old.

After having the ball snatched from my hands, I managed to muscle it back for a chance to shoot.

I had already missed a couple so I was feeling nervous. I tried to remember what my high school coach had told me - aim for the corner of the square and make sure to follow through with your wrist.

I took a deep breath, fired off the shot and bam, it actually went in. It was a great feeling but it was even better with the high fives from my team and members of the opposition.

When I showed up to the Midnight Basketball tournament at Grafton, I had no idea what I was getting myself into but when tournament manager Alan Grainger told me to bring along my shoes I obliged.

After sitting down to a pretty great spread for dinner and chatting with the workshop participants and volunteers I started to get a feel for what Midnight Basketball was all about.

Over five weeks, some great people bring together a group of kids, aged between 12 and 18, to teach them about healthy living, good life choices, life skills, job readiness and personal development - all with a few games of ball thrown in.

The kids don't get to play if they don't participate in the workshop - making sure they get the most out of being there.

There was a whole range of people from the community there, from a police officer having a run around on the court to volunteer Jan Lees whose only exposure to basketball had been back in the day when she saw the Harlem Globetrotters.

Previous participants who are now too old for the program came back to volunteer.

This week the Midnight Sports program starts at Yamba. With volunteers being so important to this program, Mayor Richie Williamson said the committee would love to see as many new people as possible head along on Friday.

"There is a wide range of volunteer roles available," he said.

"No sports knowledge is required, however, willingness to have fun is essential. It really is a fabulous way to give something back to your community."

After speaking to many of the volunteers at Grafton, it's easy to see why they keep going back - the sense of fun and enjoyment the children get out of it is amazing and it is probably one of the most practical programs I have seen of its kind.

I know I'll be heading down to have a look - and hopefully get in another game of basketball.

Mind you, I am not sure any of the teams would have me.

All players and volunteers are invited to register at Raymond Laurie Sports Centre before 6.30pm.

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