Interview with session manager Michael Byrnes

Michael Byrnes has been with Drug Aware Ignite Basketball since the beginning. Currently at Murdoch University completing a Sports Science degree, Michael is also a qualified pilot and a 3rd Degree black belt in Taekwondo. As session manager, he helps lead the program on the Saturday night – coordinating staff, coaching, running the tournament and being the first port of call for any issues that might arise.

How did you get involved with the Drug Aware Ignite Basketball program?

I was involved in a similar program which was also run in the City of Armadale before the commencement of this program. I volunteered initially as experience while I was on my gap year after high school. Once Drug Aware Ignite Basketball started up I made the transition into the different role within the new program.

What are your main duties for the night?

My role is session manager. I facilitate the running and procedures of the night. This can range from coordinating setup of equipment , organizing teams/fixtures/competitions/games and keeping the nights proceeding running smoothly so as much fun and enjoyment can be experienced.

How do you feel it helps young people in an area like Armadale?

Personally I feel this program gives the young people an opportunity to be in an environment which is inclusive , safe and supportive to all and enables the ability to socialise with others of a similar age through the avenue of sport and fun games. The program gives the kids opportunity to gain qualifications in coaching ,refereeing and leadership . In addition it connects them with positive role models in the within the community.

What have been the biggest challenges in your experience there?

The biggest challenge is sharing all the knowledge that the mentors and coaches possess from their life experience and competitive sport experience. While it is not logical to run skill sessions for long durations ,  having focuses on skills for small components of the sessions on the night has seen a better range of fundamental skills and conceptualisation of relevant rules and  drills.

How have you developed as a coach and leader?

From the very first session that Drug Aware Ignite Basketball has been running I have been continually learning. With any group of kids you soon find out what works and what doesn’t.  One thing may work brilliantly with one group but be a total disaster with another. It is this realization that you have to continually adapt and almost be two steps ahead of each component to ensure the smooth running of things to successfully run components of the sessions that I have learnt the most.

What examples of success have you seen in young people over the course of the last two years?

  • Seeing some of the kids coming into the program who have rarely touched a basketball before and a few months later they are putting their hand up to join one of the Ignite Junior teams at Vic park is quite rewarding
  • Hearing positive stories of how some of the participants are interacting with people in the community such as local parks , shopping centres and supermarkets (good behavior , manners , positive attitudes)
  • Some of the participants have taken the right steps to better set themselves up for future job prospects and putting in the required hard work in order to gain relevant qualifications for employment is desired fields.
  • Some of the once junior participants have now taken a more leardership or coaching role within the program and assisting with proceedings on the program nights.