Midnight Basketball Success
WITH three seconds left on the clock and trailing by one point a shot heads towards the basket.
It drops straight in, and the buzzer sounds. The crowd goes wild, and the players embrace joyfully on the court.
Welcome to Midnight Basketball Grafton.
The program, which has been running at the Grafton Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre for the past eight weeks wrapped up with its finals night on Friday, and the atmosphere from the youth participants and volunteers was electric.
Chair of the Grafton Midnight Basketball committee Craig Howe said the engagement shown by the hundred strong crowd on the night was one of the most pleasing aspects of the program.
"The kids have really participated in both the workshops and the games, " he said.
"They're really keen for it not to end."
"The number of volunteers as well that have helped with the program has really impressed me."
The program, which originated in Sydney and has now spread across the country aims to offer local youth between the ages of 12 and 18 a place to go on a Friday or Saturday night in a safe and structured environment.
All participants start the night with a dinner, and then participate in life-skills workshops as well as competing in a team environment in the basketball competition.
At the end of the evening, all of the participants are dropped to their home by bus.
CEO of Midnight Basketball Tess White, who visited the final night of the Grafton program, said the kids were happy with what was offered.
"The most common response we get from them is how happy they are to be in a safe, positive environment," she said.
"The kids set themselves a code of conduct at the beginning of the program, and they always comment how important they find this structured environment."
The nights will now move to Yamba starting from May 18, with another program scheduled for Grafton in term three.