Rocky man’s mission to help kids through basketball
Luke Smith is on a mission to help struggling youths find themselves through playing basketball, and he’s stopped back at his hometown of Rockhampton where he’s reflected on his past and the issues facing kids in the Central Queensland city.
The 34-year-old has been running basketball programs for five to six years and has just returned from Toronto where he worked with disadvantaged young people by introducing them to basketball and helping them achieve their goals with the sport.
He’s put on a youth league for kids in Toronto in a centre owned by the same company as the Toronto Raptors.
With the terrible COVID situation in Canada, Mr Smith fears what will happen if young people don’t have opportunities to go out and stay fit.
“When they’re stripped of that and they’re stripped with those social cues that come with being 11, 12, 13, their development hanging out with other kids,” he said.
“I think in the future we’re going to see a little bit of a developmental gap with some young people because of these two or three years we’re going to have under this cloud of COVID.”
Mr Smith attended the Rockhampton Youth Week events on April 14 where he engaged in basketball with some of the local kids.
He said the city had hit a “breaking-point” with the lack of things for young people to do.
“The councils and the governments really need to go into bat to make sure they’re building stuff that’s not just for tourism - don’t just build a water park and say that we did something for kids - you’ve got to make sure they can facilitate funding so the kids can be involved with [something like] basketball,” he said.
He learnt during his time at Toronto that kids often need their own ways of staying motivated sometimes and while some just want to play basketball for fun, it’s important to help those who want to take it more seriously.
Mr Smith is on his way back to Melbourne soon where he plans to make a full-time career out of community outreach through sports.
He’s now the founder of the new organisation Bigger Than This.
“I’m studying a sports management degree so I’d love to eventually love to transition into doing something like this full-time where I work with an organisation in their community outreach department,” he said.
Mr Smith has worked for Helping Hoops in Melbourne, a basketball charity dedicated to offering free sports programs to kids.
He’s also worked with MLSC Launchpad in Toronto, Quantum Sports and Learning Association, and True North Sports Camps.