SMILES, sweat and extraordinary basketball.
There are few tournaments across Australia that captivate quite like the Summer Slam.
The South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association (SSANBA) has put on the Summer Slam since 2003 and it is an event of immense success and positivity.
These are the elements that need attention.
There are over 800 athletes who take Eagle Stadium, Werribee by storm every year and fill out the stands and sidelines with eager young stars and hopeful up-and-comers.
A shared passion for all things basketball brings the community out in force as Sudanese players, coaches and family alike unite to make this event happen.
The older kids soar incredibly – the mighty dunks and the iconic swish of well-sunk threes are drowned out only by joy, passion and intensity from the younger spectators and competitors alike.
Their attention to detail honing their basketball skills and amazing athleticism, their desires to shine on and off the court and most importantly – their pure passion for this game we hold so dear.
There’s nothing better than watching diligence, respect and admiration put into practice on the court. The results from the tournament itself are impressive, as the likes of the Longhorns, Savannah Pride and Red Roos amongst many others vie for the coveted Open Men’s title, but this is a tournament of brilliant off-court results too.
Let those stories resonate from the Summer Slam. These are the stories that deserve to be championed. Seeing young men and women feel a sense of belonging and desire more for themselves is the best aspect of a very simple concept.
Basketball Victoria is one of many organisations to get behind this event and ensure it can run to the best of its potential.
A bright future on court sets the blinkers for many young athletes and it is our hope that these events continue to inspire and bring everyone closer together.
“The reason we do it is through the camaraderie, community and belonging that we’re a part of now – we’re now as embraced as part of community just by being involved in the basketball side of this event,” Basketball Victoria’s Karen Pearce said. “We’re not seen as administrators, but we’re seen as friends – that’s what brings us back every year, twice a year, since we started helping in 2008.
“We were helped to ask out a 12-team competition and we’ve seen it build and continue to grow on a bi-annual basis.
“We’re working hard to build the profile of the women’s competition and from a competition that started with very few girls’ teams, we’ve now got a really competitive Open Women’s competition within the tournament and more girls starting to take to the floor.
“We need to focus on building all aspects of the tournament.
“The under-16s have gone from watching on to become part of the competition.
“Trying to stop the negative perception that surrounds the African community at the moment in the media and through the incidents that happen in Victoria that give a bad name to the community.
“We know that’s not involved in this community as a whole – from the athletes, the coaches, the supporters – the people who come to enjoy their basketball. That’s what we love to see and that’s why we come back each and every time to support this competition.”
There are a thousand tales of extraordinary people on and off the court at the tournament. Television star Wally Elnour, who has taken to the silver screen famously on the SBS drama Sunshine. Deng Dut, one of our beloved Victoria Metropolitan under-18 boys’ national champions. These people, amongst many, and their stories make for a wonderful experience – but you have to get close to see them.
We believe our game, especially throughout Victoria, is an amazing bridging point between communities. We all love the game and we all want to see Victoria thrive. Together this is possible.
Victoria Police, Helping Hoops and many other organisations are equally as invested and passionate about the SSANBA Summer Slam.
Our hope is that positivity can prevail and give confidence and pride to the entire Victorian basketball community. And the way we do that is simple – one game at a time.
Make sure you come out to see the tournament reach its incredible peak tomorrow at Eagle Stadium.