Midnight Basketball still in works

A PROVEN winner in the fight against crime is still on its way to Coffs Harbour despite some delays.

Midnight Basketball, a national program to help youth aged 12 to 18 embrace positive opportunities, was due to tip-off here this weekend but it’s now been set down for February.

“We’ve had a few hoops to jump through but Midnight Basketball is still on the go and the ball is still bouncing,” said Bryony Barber, a spokeswoman for the Coffs Harbour steering committee.

“It’s been a little slow to getting it where it needs to be. By the time it picked up speed and people jumped on board, we were too close to the start date.”

Midnight Basketball will be staged at least twice a year at the Coffs Harbour Education Campus, which has been a strong supporter of the concept.

So, too, have local police, North Coast Youth Career Connections, the Commonwealth Bank, Rotary clubs in Coffs Harbour and Sawtell, the Ted Noffs Foundation, the PCYC and Coffs Harbour City Council.

“What we expect from all of this is we’ll be able to help young people who have lost their way or have never found their way, to understand they can control their future,” Ms Barber said.

“We want to give young people an opportunity to learn in an environment that’s positive and to help them use whatever knowledge they have achieved to take them further.

“We are going to use this as a basis to network with other agencies.”

You need look no further than Kempsey to see the value of Midnight Basketball – youth crime in the Macleay dropped by a whopping 57 per cent during Friday night Midnight Basketball sessions, according to police figures.

“It’s also going really well in Forster and in Albury it’s been brilliant,” Ms Barber said.

Midnight Basketball was first launched in Redfern, Sydney, in 2007, and was such a success the program spread nationally.

Its key objectives are to engage youth participants with the wider community, involve community members directly with youth and encourage volunteer support.

Players must attend life-skills workshops if they want to participate in the basketball competition.

They will learn about nutrition and health; substance, emotional and physical abuse, conflict resolution, decision-making and problem-solving, self-esteem, job readiness, financial literacy, personal and community engagement skills; and making positive choices.

For more information, contact the local organisers at coffsharbour@midnightbasketball.org.au.

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