Western Australia Minister for Sport and Recreation Terry Waldron
Midnight Basketballers Hang With The Stars
Victor P Taffa
The Australian Boomers Training Camp in Perth last week provided an opportunity for participants of the Midland Midnight Basketball Program to meet NBA superstars Patty Mills and Nathan Jawai.
Sport and Recreation Minister Terry Waldron said the meeting had the potential to positively influence the lives of the young participants and highlighted the value to the community of having the stars of Australian basketball train and play in Perth.
The Portland Trailblazers’ fleet-footed guard Patty Mills and Minnesota Timberwolves colossus Nathan Jawai were on hand at the WA Basketball Centre to provide tips and inspiration to a group of about 20 starry eyed youngsters from the program.
“Elite athletes such as Nathan and Patrick are in a position to positively influence the lives of our children in a way that few in our community can.” Mr. Waldron said.
“It is pleasing to see that these two young men have taken that responsibility on board and have taken time out of their schedule to impact the lives of participants in the Midland Midnight Basketball Program.”
Midland Midnight Basketball Tournament Director Kurtis Leslie said the tournament was a reward for participants who not only showed commitment to the program through regular attendance but also leadership.
“These guys love basketball, so to have Patty and Nathan come out and address our group is not only something different, it’s something extraordinary.” Mr. Leslie said.
“A message from an NBA player carries extra special meaning for a young person, so when Nathan spoke about his personal experience, I think it really resonated with our group.”
“Nathan said that in his life he had two paths to choose from, to muck around and achieve nothing or to dedicate his life to something. He chose to dedicate himself to basketball, and obviously it’s paying off.”
The Midland Midnight Basketball Program is for 12-18 year olds and runs each Saturday night at the Swan Park Leisure Centre in Midvale with support from the Department of Sport and Recreation.
The program is an example of a sport and recreation programs being supported by the State Government in a bid to tackle social issues like the number of young children roaming the streets late at night unaccompanied by responsible adults.
Since it started, the program has been scoring three-pointers for both the young people involved and their community.
During the same period in May 2009 and May 2010, the number of children being picked up in Northbridge on Saturday nights has halved.
“As demonstrated by midnight basketball, sport can be a really effective method of engaging young people, and once engaged they can be provided with other learning opportunities,” the Minister said.
“These programs are great examples of how sport and recreation can help to build stronger, healthier, happier and safer communities.”
The next eight-week Midland Midnight Basketball tournament is scheduled to begin on October 16.