Participants and supporters at the final match of Port Phillip Council’s 2 on 2 Tournament with Mayor Dick Gross (in orange) and Acting Senior Sergeant Jay McDonald.
Participants and supporters at the final match of Port Phillip Council’s 2 on 2 Tournament with Mayor Dick Gross (in orange) and Acting Senior Sergeant Jay McDonald.

A basketball tournament funded by Port Phillip Council has brought youths together to have fun and feel connected to the St Kilda foreshore.

Indigenous and African youths were among the 12 to 19-year-olds travelling across Melbourne each week to shoot hoops in a safe, fun and inclusive setting.

The six week 2 on 2 Tournament, which ended yesterday, was supported by organisations including Victoria Police, the St Kilda PCYC (Police and Citizens Youth Club), Elevate Basketball, Relationships Australia, MSF Sports and the St Kilda Life Saving Club.

The youngsters warmed up on a temporary court with Victoria Police participants before competing in teams for prizes. A barbecue after the games provided another opportunity for everyone to interact.

Mayor Dick Gross said the tournament helped Council and police further engage with young people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

“Sport is a universal language and great way of bringing people from all backgrounds together,” Cr Gross said.

“Many of the players already regularly visit the foreshore so this initiative helped us build on that existing connection by promoting a sense of belonging and inclusion through a fun sporting and social activity.

“We’re proud of St Kilda’s reputation as a place where everyone is welcome and want to provide every possible opportunity for young people to share their views while making new friends.”

The St Kilda PCYC will now evaluate the pilot program.

“The support was tremendous, from foreshore traders to passers-by stopping to cheer the players on, and we will certainly consider running the tournament again next summer,” Cr Goss said.

Background

Port Phillip Council funded the $10,000 cost of the program, held near the St Kilda Life Saving Club.

Young players travelled from Geelong, Northcote, Dandenong, Albert Park, St Kilda, Sandringham, Balwyn, Altona and Prahran for the tournament to have fun and vie for Footlocker vouchers and basketballs.