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Profile – Saranya Rajkumar

Darwin’s Midnight Basketball has a devoted following among high school students. But when you find yourself finishing school, do you have to give it up?

Not so for Saranya Rajkumar, who finished Year 12 last year and started a Bachelor of Nursing.

She decided if she was no longer eligible to play, she was going to volunteer and help the late-night matches provide the sport, fun and community that she had enjoyed so much.

“It’s like everyone’s partying on weekends – we get to play and eat food, make new friends,” says Rajkumar.

“Nearly everyone there is my friend. I made a lot through players and volunteers.”

Rajkumar arrived in Darwin from south India three years ago, and had already been playing basketball for five years before she saw the Midnight Basketball program pop up on Facebook.

“The people are really nice – I didn’t know Darwin people were that nice,” she says.

“It starts at 7.30pm and we finish at 11.30pm. We eat a meal first and then play our game, three games per night and then we have workshops on different topics, like cyber safety,” she says.

After the seven-week block, a final is held. Last year Rajkumar’s dedication, enthusiasm and b-ball skills saw her play for Darwin in the Midnight Basketball national finals in Sydney.

“It was just two days but it was so fun, it’s a lasting memory.”

Not only is the tournament “challenging and fun,” the games also put her in touch with people from different backgrounds and schools, and was the only opportunity to play on a mixed team, something that her school and local club, Tiwi Jets, didn’t offer.

Now that she’s over 18 and on the other side of the boundary lines, the nursing student hopes to move into a coaching role, although she’s happy to try her hand at anything to begin with.

“Maybe I could coach or just do ran-dom things. I wish I coached,” she says.

“I’m going to volunteer every year – I’m not going to it give up!” 

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