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City of Little Rock launch 'Midnight Basketball'

Hoping to give the youth something to do in a safe space

The city of Little Rock kicked off its 'Midnight Basketball' on Thursday for the local hoops community. The popular event was brought back after it was successful last year.

Michael Sanders is the assistant director of community programs for the city of Little Rock. He told KATV this event will be happening every Thursday and Friday night from 9 p.m. until midnight. Sanders says this opportunity is for ages 16 and up.

“We just know the need in the summer trying to give those young people something to do on that Thursday, Friday, keeping them occupied, keeping them burning energy," he said.

According to Sanders, they are changing up the platform from teams going up against each other within the community to an open-run format. He said this style of play is like pick-up basketball. Sanders said the team with the highest score before the buzzer sounds or the first team to 10 points wins the game and continues to stay on the court.

KeShawn Henderson, a 19-year-old basketball player, said this kind of opportunity was something he was looking for.

"It's actually cool because I've been looking for somewhere to play at night time," Henderson said. "After 4 o'clock, I meant after 8 o'clock you can't play nowhere so this is actually nice."

Another basketball player Anthony Black competed in a few games on Thursday night. He believes the game of basketball brings a special connection to those who love the sport.

"It's more than just older kids; it's also younger kids than you can connect to," Black said. "As much as going on in our city, it's good to have a safe place for everybody to come connect with; I think most people connect best when in the city, which is basketball."

Sanders believes these games could provide more than competition on the court. He said the city has employment opportunities for those players who are interested.

“That 16 to 21 telling them about our summer youth employment that we hire every summer, getting them ready for that February application," Sanders said.

Sanders said the open runs will continue every Thursday and Friday night until August 10 at West Central Community Center, Southwest Community Center, and Jim Dailey Fitness and Aquatic Center. He said there would be a Little Rock Police officer present at each facility, staff members, and people from their prevention and intervention program.

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