NEVER DONE RISING

Community

The young athletes at Atherton Gardens are forging a new future for themselves, and for sport. A future where they find strength in their differences and rise together.

Last updated: June 9, 2022
4 min read
Never done rising
Never done rising

On a Tuesday night in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, a group of young athletes meet for basketball training on the Atherton Gardens court. Most of them live in the high-rise buildings that tower over them. This is their backyard. On the surface, this session is about skills, but it’s also about breaking down barriers, so these athletes can find strength in each other’s differences on a level playing field.

Never done rising

Multi-purpose court at Atherton Gardens in Fitzroy, Melbourne

The community is brought together by two sporting clubs – Helping Hoops and Fitzroy Lions SC. Both clubs aim to remove the barriers and get these young athletes to play. But their influence reaches into every part of these athletes’ lives.

Never done rising
Never done rising
Never done rising

THE PLAYERS

For these players, it’s about celebrating each other’s differences and learning to believe in their teammates, and in themselves. “Being here is not just about sport. It connects us, regardless of our differences,” says Fitzroy Lions athlete Abdul, 8.

To Helping Hoops athlete Akuech “It’s a safe place. If I’m doing something outside of school or I need help with tutoring or something, I can rely on my coaches and team mates. They’re always there to support me.”

To Khalid, 12: “Being part of a team, you get to learn more about others, no matter who they are. Win or lose, we lift each other up.”

Never done rising

THE COACHES

For the coaches, these sessions are about instilling belief and pride in these young athletes. Helping Hoops Coach Omar Coles has his own acronym that sums it up: B.E.A.R. “Belief, Action, Energy and Repetition,” he explains. “Once you've accomplished something, your confidence grows. That's the thing about sport, it helps you believe in yourself.”

Never done rising

THE COACHES

For the coaches, these sessions are about instilling belief and pride in these young athletes. Helping Hoops Coach Omar Coles has his own acronym that sums it up: B.E.A.R. “Belief, Action, Energy and Repetition,” he explains. “Once you've accomplished something, your confidence grows. That's the thing about sport, it helps you believe in yourself.”

To Fitzroy Lions coach Eloise Young, “When our kids run out onto the pitch, they’re representing their neighborhood and their community, and they can feel proud of where they come from.”

Never done rising

To Fitzroy Lions coach Eloise Young, “When our kids run out onto the pitch, they’re representing their neighborhood and their community, and they can feel proud of where they come from.”

Never done rising
Never done rising
Never done rising

THE PARENTS

Training sessions are a reason for the whole community to get together. Parents, friends, and siblings sit on the grass surrounding the court, and they join in too. “It’s our yard,” says Josephine, whose son Emmanuel is part of Helping Hoops. “I grew up here, my kids have grown up here”, she says. “It gives them so much confidence, having this space to play together. They're learning to respect each other and celebrate their differences. I love seeing how this generation are using this space.”

Empowered by community, these young athletes define their futures with the lessons learned on the court. A future where sport provides a common ground, so we can all rise together.

Never done rising

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