Hartlepool Huskies have been awarded £5,000 from PCC Steve Turner to stage a town-wide competition as part of a programme of summer projects across all 13 wards in the town.
The funding from the crime commissioner – who previously played basketball at a national level – is in support of the work the Huskies already does with young people in the town which has seen some big drops in anti-social behaviour.
The money will pay for coaching and equipment with a particular focus on areas of the town with high levels of deprivation and nuisance behaviour.
Mr Turner, who played for the Middlesbrough Mowhawks until the age of 21, said: “Basketball is a great way of building team work and positive relationships.
"Being able to fund this programme enables me to give back to a sport, from which I’ve gained so much over the years.”
He dropped in on a Hartlepool Huskies training session at Mill House Leisure Centre to show his support and spoke to players and coaches.
Mr Turner added: “It’s really good to see so many girls getting involved as well. I think the concept of what the Huskies are trying to do in going into every ward in Hartlepool and give young people the opportunity to try something new is great.”
Hartlepool Huskies introduces youngsters aged six to 16 to the sport through a series of pop-up events.
They have held three pilot “ward takeover” matches so far in Owton Manor, Bishop Cuthbert and Victoria Ward where anti-social behaviour fell by 96% in March.
Calvin George, the Huskies’ director of basketball operations, and an ex-Newcastle Eagles player, said: “It’s all about engaging them in a really positive manner and giving them something to do.
"The funding lets us run our summer programme and run basketball in every single ward of Hartlepool.”
Small tournaments will be held for all wards with winning primary and secondary age teams representing their area at an event to crown the winners of Hartlepool’s Ward Takeover Championship Cup.
Alongside the cup, the Huskies will run three-day summer camps aimed at under-10s to under-16s.