Selfless volunteers get a lot out of giving up their time
VOLUNTEERING for Midnight Basketball is exhausting, demanding and sometimes frustrating, but for dedicated band at Grafton they would not do anything else.
With the latest Midnight Basketball competition due to tip off on July 28 the Grafton committee met for the first time this week to prepare and one of the main topics was volunteers.
Committee chairman Gary Martin said the competition needed about 30 volunteers to run efficiently and cater for all aspects of the competition.
Midnight Basketball is a program designed to encourage young people between 12 and 18 off the streets.
It offers young people a mix of a good meal, learning some life skills, a game of basketball and a safe ride home every Friday for eight weeks.
The volunteers provide all these services: coaching, serving meals, holding workshops, coaching, scoring and bus driving.
"There's a whole range of different things you can choose to do,” he said. "When you enrol to be a volunteer you can tick the boxes of the activities you are interested in.”
He said the Grafton volunteers coordinator Katie Hindom would assign the volunteers a job.
"Volunteers don't have to worry about finding something to do,” Mr Martin said.
"There's no-one wandering around looking for something to do. Everyone has their role and knows what they need to be doing.”
The Grafton committee has scheduled a volunteer training session at the Grafton Basketball Stadium on Thursday, July 20, from 7pm to 8pm.
Midnight Baskeball has streamlined how to join up. To become a volunteer for the coming season click here or call Ms Hindom on 0402 627 896.
In the meantime four Midnight Basketball regular share their experiences.
Giving something back
LEWIS Campbell has moved from working as a volunteer in the catering section to court side as an assistant coach.
In preparation for the latest competition he has graduated to a team coach and to top it off, has joined the Midnight Basketball committee.
"I want to be be able to give something back to the community,” Mr Campbell said.
"Also being younger, I think I can relate to the kids and be a mentor to them.”
Mr Campbell said the rewards of seeing young people grow in confidence over the course of each Midnight Basketball competition was the reward for volunteering.
"Being a coach and getting the players together and cheering them on from the sideline is great. There's nothing better,” he said.
PAT HAGAN has been a basketball coach for 40 years and spent the last five years with the North Coast Academy of Sport basketball program.
While he is in awe of some of the raw talent he sees on court at Midnight Basketball, there's something else he has noticed, which is more impressive.
"You see it happen so often, two people come onto a team you have a bit of animosity to each other they've brought with them from outside at school or from the street,” he said.
"By the end of their Midnight Basketball competition, they're mates. They've learned about teamwork and the need to get along to be successful.”
Mr Hagan said helping kids make the transition to thinking about themselves to working as a team was why he kept coming back to Midnight Basketball.
All about respect
MARK Turner said his reward from Midnight Basketball is giving and receiving respect from the young players he coaches.
"After the eight weeks of Midnight Basketball they'll see you in the street and sing out to you,” he said.
"They'll say things like 'Mark I want to be on your team at the next Midnight Basketball'.
"Before Midnight Basketball those kids would never had done anything like that.”
Mr Turner said watching the players develop their competitive instincts was also a reward.
"I enjoy teaching the skills like how to do a layup or correct shooting techniques. By the end they get it.
"By the eighth week, the players are asking me what they've got to do to make the grand final. I tell them to win they grand final they need to win every game.”
BRYAN Robins has been playing and coaching basketball for more than 50 years in Grafton.
"It's been a passion of mine,” he said. "Midnight Basketball combines that passion in a beautiful way with community service.
"It's always been my desire to contribute to young people's development and this great program have given me great pleasure to be part of it.”