Hoops to help the homeless

It started as a small idea with Council gardener and basketball fanatic Chris Worner looking for a way to help rough sleepers in Merri-bek; that idea morphed into an event that attracted the attention of Olympian Michele Timms, NBA superstar Andrew Bogut and media personality Peter Hitchener.

Worner, with the help of work mates, friends and family, created ‘Hoops for the Homeless’, a three-on-three community basketball event to raise funds for the Brunswick Salvation Army to help the homeless.

Having lived in Merri-bek his whole life, Worner said it was only in the last few years he has seen more people sleeping on the streets.

“The rise has been quite rapid lately and I was really driven to do something to help,” Worner said.

“One moment that really affected me recently was seeing a mother and daughter sleeping rough. The daughter would’ve been around the same age as my daughter and that really hit home for me.

“I thought to myself – especially in this day and age – this isn’t right. So I was driven to do what I could to help.”

Initially hoping for 12 teams, no fewer than 24 teams competed for what he hopes will become the perpetual ‘Hoops for the Homeless’ championship cup.

The event also attracted Olympian and basketball coach Michele Timms, who held a basketball clinic for the kids, and NBA superstar Andrew Bogut signed a basketball that was up for grabs in the silent auction, announced by Peter Hitchener.

Moreland Mayor Cr Natalie Abboud was not the least bit surprised with the swell of support for the event.

“Morelanders look out for each other, care about each other and help each other when they can,” Abboud said.

“That goes for our Council employees too, with everyone keen to do what they can to make a difference for people that are doing it tough in our community.”

There was plenty of other entertainment for those not playing in the tournament; a jumping castle, BBQ, raffle and other games and activities.

 Chris Worner and his friends created Hoops for the Homeless

Chris Worner (centre) and his mates created Hoops for the Homeless