A new basketball initiative is focussing on delivering long term benefits to the boys in Banksia Hill.
What began as a six week coaching clinic almost 12 months ago, evolved into a weekly sporting activity and the formation of Banksia Hawks – the Centre’s new basketball team. The coaching clinic was developed by Youth Justice Worker Jarrad Hey, with the assistance of Recreation Officer Chris Anderson and Youth Justice Worker Leigh Smithers. The clinic was designed to teach a select group of boys the basics of basketball, as well as teamwork and discipline.
Chris said basketball was a popular sport which could help the boys build links in the community when they left Banksia Hill.
"Working with Basketball WA we are aiming to connect the boys up with teams they can join in their local area when they leave Banksia," Chris said. "This will give them a positive connection back into the community, a place where they can go and play basketball with other young people."
For two boys aged 15 and 17 due for release shortly, this will be an important link for them back into the community.
"The staff who coach us have been talking to other teams about letting us join them when we leave here," said one boy. "One of the coaches said to me if I can keep playing basketball and stay out of trouble for three months he will see what he can do to get me and my team in here to play against the Hawks. That would be good – especially if we beat them."
At the recent awards ceremony to celebrate Banksia Hawks’ inaugural season, the boys were recognised for being role models both in terms of improvements in their behaviour as well as taking on leadership roles within the team.
"Some weeks there would be lots of new guys turn up to training and they hadn’t played with us before. We tried to show them stuff, like different skills and ways of playing better. It was good to be able to help out," the older boy said.
Youth Justice Services Senior Project Officer Amy Smith said sporting activities, such as basketball, complemented work being achieved within the Lifeskills, Health and Development, and the Emotional Wellbeing program areas.
"Sport can have positive impacts on young people," Amy said. "It helps the boys to establish links back into the community, while also keeping them engaged in something they enjoy doing."
"Basketball WA is keen to work with us in Banksia Hill to understand what contribution they can make to help the boys build and maintain sustainable connections in their communities."
Chris said since July, Basketball WA had been providing them with one of their own coaches to run an additional training session each week.
"In January, Basketball WA will be delivering an umpires course to 10 of our boys," he said. "This is a nationally recognised course which means that when the boys leave here they can register to become an umpire and could start earning money by umpiring games."
While Chris focussed on building a schedule of fortnightly games with external teams, Jarrad and Leigh along with Youth Justice Worker B-Jay Quartermaine took on coaching roles. Jarrad, the team’s head coach said they run the basketball using a behavioural management model similar to what professional sporting teams would use.
"The boys are required to maintain consistent good behaviour throughout the week to be entitled to attend training, and to be eligible for team selection," Jarrad said. "We provide them with an understanding of what is expected of them in terms of their behaviour. We talk about making positive decisions and weighing up the benefits versus the consequences when making decisions."
During the awards ceremony each of the participants received a certificate of recognition, and awards including Coach’s Pick and Most Valued Player were presented to outstanding players. These winners will be the first to have their names placed on the new award boards which will hang in the gymnasium.