Pictured: Y Streetball participants after playing a game of basketball at North Melbourne Community Centre.
Just over a year ago two friends, Dave Gunstone and Peter Abraham, founded Y Streetball. What started out as a simple conversation between two friends in a laundromat, turned into an award-winning community program. But more importantly, it turned into a place where participants feel at home and are part of a family.
Every Tuesday at 4pm people of all ages and from all walks of life – including those who are experiencing homelessness, or experiencing some form of disadvantage – come together at North Melbourne Community Centre to play basketball, socialise and have a meal together.
A lot has happened since Y Streetball’s humble beginnings. Over the course of the year the program was featured in The Age which resulted in an anonymous donation of $1,000, plus shoes and a $9,500 donation from Nike. Not to mention two outstanding awards. They also celebrated their one-year anniversary with over 45 participants and, unfortunately, said goodbye to co-founder Peter when he moved to Canberra two months ago.
“So much has happened with Y Streetball in the past year. We’ve received a lot of support from the community, which has allowed us to continue and grow the program,” said Dave, who despite the attention the program has received, still puts the Y Streetball participants first.
When you visit Y Streetball on a Tuesday afternoon, it is clear the feelings of respect and care Dave has for all those who attend are mutual, with fist-bumps, hugs and nicknames (Disco Dave) used affectionately among the group.
However, the past two months haven’t been easy for Dave since Peter’s departure. The two formed a strong friendship over the course of the program and Dave believes the program wouldn’t be where it is today without Peter’s help. But, Dave stepped up into his role as a leader and continues to run the program every Tuesday without fail.
Peter isn’t completely out of the picture though. On Friday 15 June, he made the long drive down from Canberra to Melbourne for the Aquatic and Recreation Victoria (ARV) Gala Awards, where Y Streetball was awarded Innovative Program of the Year.
Pictured: Julian Balthazaar (Centre Manager, North Melbourne Community Centre), Peter Abraham and Dave Gunstone smiling with their award for Innovative Program of the Year at the ARV Gala Awards..
“The ARV Awards were incredible. I didn’t think we had a shot, there were so many other amazing programs up for nomination,” said Dave.
“I wouldn’t have gone without Peter by my side, it would’ve felt wrong. We started this thing together and I know he still cares about the program – he gets homesick every Tuesday afternoon when we play.”
The prestigious award recognises outstanding achievement and commitment in the recreation industry. Y Streetball also received one of the most highly regarded awards at the YMCA Victoria Staff and Volunteer Awards held in November 2017, an event that recognises programs and people at the Y who go above and beyond for their communities across Victoria.
As for the future, Dave will continue to run Y Streetball and occasionally throw a much-loved BBQ for the participants out the front of the centre. He also hopes to increase community involvement by potentially inviting the local police department or fire-brigade down to play a game against the Y Streetball team.