“Congratulations, your efforts are an inspiration to us all.” With these words, Graeme Allen was thanked for his address on Wednesday July 11, 2018.
Graeme shared the story of the development and growth of the Black Rhinos – a basketball team that started in March 2017 with 20 players, four weeks later there were 80. All the members of the team have crossed their lives with Victoria Police, but in the 18 months that the team has been developing there has zero recidivism within the team members, 40% decrease in African crime in the City of Dandenong and the team made the grand final in their grade in their first year, but were defeated by five points.
The story of the Black Rhinos Basketball team, and the female team the Peregrine Falcons is a story of inspiration, it is a story of determination, and it is a story of success.
When Graeme was first approached to host and work with the group of people (all with criminal records) who became the Black Rhinos, Dandenong Basketball was not the first group approached, but they were the first to say “yes”. The group Afri-Aus Care approached Graeme and with consideration and some robust discussion, the decision was made to provide the space and the mentoring for the group to come together and play. Graeme outlined his one rule – If one person messes up – then everyone is out. No-one has messed up. The team has grown, and the players have grown. The arrangement is not just the playing of basketball, but also working with a mentor to build resume writing and job interview skills.