HANA ALHADDAD AND SIMON ORCHARD
Perth’s basketballers now have access to new day-and-night outdoor courts after light towers were recently installed at a popular street ball venue in Victoria Park, on the doorstep of the Perth CBD.
Located just off Canning Highway and next to The Causeway, McCallum Park has long been home to one of the most visited outdoor court locations offered to basketballers around the city.
However it was not until the guys behind one of Perth’s most well-known three-on-three basketball competitions were enlisted to lobby the Town of Victoria Park that the project really started gaining momentum.
Vulture Culture director and creator of Ballin’ In The Park, Ronan Freeburn, said the courts were so popular that a series of light tower installations was the next logical step to allow longer hours to those who love shooting hoops.
“I kind of championed this idea with the town. I really wanted to get it on the agenda,” Mr Freeburn said.
“It was actually kind of a difficult process to begin with.
“The town said there wasn’t much of a budget available and although I wanted to press the issue, I didn’t want to put the council under too much pressure in case they threw it out.”
To get the attention of the council, Mr Freeburn approached the community using Facebook to help garner support.
“In the end I started riling up some interest on my Ballin’ In The Park Facebook page,” he said.
“I hit up a few community newspapers to gain a bit more traction and really just develop the profile of a project which I believed would bring so many benefits to the area and it’s wider community.”
Following a groundswell of community support, the Town of Victoria Park decided to install the light towers at the end of the Summer season.
“I’m not sure how keen the Town was initially, but in the end they’ve got to do a due diligence to their people, and from there they ran some community engagement surveys and offered the interested parties an opportunity to attend council meetings and have their say,” he said.
The only concerns raised by the council and local residents at the end of the process were that the courts could possibly lead to overcrowding of the area, and that there would be an obvious increase in maintenance costs to the courts.
Jeremy Hayward, a frequent visitor to McCallum Park, said the addition of light towers made the courts even more attractive.
“These courts were already amongst the best in Perth, but now with the addition of lights, I think they are the best street courts in the city,” he said.
“It’s amazing how many people come down here after work or school to shoot hoops either by themselves, or in larger groups.
“The atmosphere down here on a weekend is so electric, with mini-games happening on every court.”
Mr Hayward said the new and improved McCallum Park had motivated a bigger community outside Victoria Park to play basketball.
“I’m not even from here, but this is where everyone I know comes to stay fit and active, meet new people, and practice that sweet jumper,” Mr Hayward said
Victoria Park resident Aaron Kleinschmidt lives beside McCallam Park and said the new lights have not caused him or his housemates any issues.
“I mean, of course initially I was interested to know how long the lights would stay on for at night, but 8 or 9pm isn’t too late and it doesn’t interfere with my daily routine,” Mr Kleinschmidt said.
“My housemate does a bit of shift work so he is probably the one that it could affect the most but he said it’s no cause for concern for him”.
Mr Kleinschmidt also said that the local basketball courts and McCallam Park were always full of young and friendly people.
“The courts in particular are always full of people, especially after dark now that the lights have been put in,” he said.
“I walk my dog down there most weekends, for example, and there is always a really energetic but overly positive vibe coming from around the courts and it’s a really positive development for the area.”
Following the recent influx of three-on-three basketball in Perth, other organisations have also jumped on the bandwagon with Red Bull even hosting its own branded tournament at McCallum Park as well.
Mr Freeburn said the increase in basketball culture in Perth had definitely prompted ideas for his next project.
“I want to bring back the old crew, and get ‘Ballin’ In The Park Under Lights’ off the ground,” he said.
“It would be a night tournament held down at McCallum Park with hopefully huge participation and spectator numbers around the courts down there. Well, that’s the dream anyway.”
‘Ballin’ In The Park Under Lights’ is tentatively scheduled for Spring.