By Alesha Capone
More than 16,000 people have signed a petition calling for a stadium to put up its hand to host a South Sudanese Australian basketball tournament.
The Change.org petition, which was launched about three weeks ago, attracted more than 16,890 signatures by Friday last week.
The petition is calling for any basketball stadium willing to host the Summer Slam Basketball tournament to step forward.
The Summer Slam was held at Eagle Stadium in Werribee during 2016 and 2017, but this year – following discussions between the SSANBA, Wyndham council and Western Leisure Services – it was decided the stadium did not have the capacity to host the number of people who would attend the tournament.
The South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association (SSANBA) has staged the Summer Slam for the past 15 years, but has been unable to find a venue to hold this year’s tournament.
The SSANBA released a statement last month which said the association had been unable to find a venue due to “African youth issues that were widely covered in the media for the last few years”.
The statement said that stadium managers were “afraid to host our event because of the African gang stories they see in the news”.
In January, Wyndham Cr Peter Maynard said many residents had contacted the council about safety concerns, stemming from last year’s Summer Slam, after the tournament was linked to the trashing of a rented Airbnb house in Werribee.
At the time, Cr Maynard posted a statement online, which said the council would meet Western Leisure Services, police, Basketball Victoria and organisers “to suggest that this tournament not be held at the venue”.
Star Weekly has reached out to the petition’s founders – who were listed as “African youth of Victoria SS community” – for comment.
See www.change.org/p/any-basketball-stadium-in-victoria-let-us-hoop for details.