Remember Midnight Basketball? The Toronto Community Housing’s (TCHC) program to help youth (boys, ages 8-14, to be precise) uncover their physical and athletic potential. The very same one that was established in 2013 to provide youth with a positive space to grow and harness their skills? Well, it’s back on. And it underwent a makeover for the better, thanks to TCHC’s partnership with MLSE Foundation and Toronto Raptors.
After a 2-year long, pandemic-induced break, the Midnight Basketball League has finally been revived with funding from MLSE Foundation’s Change the Game campaign.
Raptors Dalano Banton and Gary Trent Jr. kicked off the current season on March 25 at University of Toronto’s Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.
With matches every Friday evening through spring and summer, the 2022 season is, by far, the longest. Interestingly, the season will see teams from six TCHC communities across TO playing. The games, of course, will be played at the game space donated by U of T.
“Midnight Basketball is something that we have always wanted to be part of, and our role in participating now is to expand the capacity of a program that was already successful and to amplify the outcomes,” explains Bridgette Estrela, managing director of MLSE Foundation.
For those not in the know, MLSE Foundation is the official charity of the Toronto Argos, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC. And the Change the Game campaign is dedicated to raising funds and awareness to address systemic barriers that prevent youth from reaching their potential. Even more? The campaign commitment is to invest 30 million over the next four years!
Naturally then, MLSE Foundation extended its support to the Midnight Basketball League’s revival taking the program several notches higher. The newly revamped program now focuses on both, on and off-court learning, which means it also fosters skills like relationship building, physical literacy and teamwork, in addition to basketball skills.
The focus of the off-court workshops will develop other essential life-skills including health, academics and economic empowerment through employment.
“We know the power of sport inspires kids, helps them grow and keeps them safe from issues that plague our city, like the rise in gun violence,” explains John Wiggins, vice-president of organizational culture and inclusion with the Toronto Raptors. “In this program, and at this place, the game is what matters, not your background, your neighbourhood or your school. The Raptors are a part of this community, and we’re here to set an example, to be a support, and to inspire — and be inspired by — the young people we meet and serve at programs like Midnight Basketball.”
MLSE Foundation has a mission to help youth use sport to recognize and reach their potential, and give them a chance to write their own story. And we’re fully here for it. And the good news is, you can be a part of it too, by contributing to the program with a donation of any type!
Here, check out MLSE Foundation’s website to extend your support!