You are here: Home / Media / Teenagers shoot hoops to avoid the weekend's pitfalls - 9 February 2006

Teenagers shoot hoops to avoid the weekend's pitfalls - 9 February 2006

Bonnie Malkin Urban Affairs Reporter Sydney Morning Herald reports: REDFERN has a new weapon in the fight against crime: basketball. The Minister for Redfern Waterloo, Frank Sartor, and the West Sydney Razorbacks have launched the Midnight Basketball Tournament to lure young people off the streets and into Alexandria Park Community School to play the game.

The tournament, which runs from 7.30pm to midnight every Saturday, is pitched at 12- to 18-year-olds who might roam the streets on weekend nights and risk getting into trouble.

The scheme is not just about having fun. It also aims to equip participants with new skills.

To take part in the competition, each teenager must first attend a workshop on topics such as anger management, conflict resolution and sex education. Razorback players will run some workshops.

Mr Sartor said yesterday that the scheme was good news for the area and would "keep kids out of court by getting them on the court".

"This is an important part of what we're trying to do with Redfern Waterloo; provide activities, provide employment and provide ways to help the youth of the area.

"If they're playing basketball on Saturday night, kids are less likely to get bored and roam the streets where they can engage in antisocial behaviour, including drug and alcohol abuse."

Mr Sartor said 30 teenagers from the local area had signed up for the scheme already.

There are 60 places in total. The first tournament kicks off on Saturday. More than 20 community organisations - including the Redfern Waterloo Authority, the Sydney Community Foundation, the City of Sydney and NRMA Insurance - have joined forces to establish the scheme.

The chairman of Midnight Basketball Australia, Roger West, said he hoped to replicate the Midnight Basketball model across Sydney by the end of the year. Areas such as Macquarie Fields and Revesby would also benefit from the scheme, he said.

"This can operate in any suburb, in any community, because it's the communities themselves that run them."

The initiative is the first of its kind in Australia but similar schemes have operated in the United States and Britain for 20 years.