They don't seem to get the idea of sport. So we have the inevitable attempt to play the race card, of course. If they had simply said that they were unfamiliar with local customs and then apologized for offending people they would no doubt have got a much better outcome. That is the sort of thing that Western whites are always expected to do when they offend some minority
A TEAM of African refugees has been blocked from playing after accusing basketball officials of racism. The Hoop Dreamz team has lodged a complaint with the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, alleging victimisation by Brisbane Basketball and its parent organisation Basketball Queensland.
Mediation has begun but Basketball Queensland says the players will only be allowed to compete in the new season, beginning next month, if they split up and join different teams. Basketball Queensland says that it is necessary because referees have felt threatened by Hoop Dreamz players and spectators and the sporting body has a duty of care.
But team coach David Yohan claims they have been subjected to "institutionalised racism" and the move is a huge blow which has devastated the youngsters. "They can't believe what's happened," he said. "They thought Australia was a place of opportunity. If they could do something with their lives, this would be the place to do it."
Ethiopian-born Mr Yohan formed Hoop Dreamz, initially playing in a public park in Yeronga, to help keep fellow refugees off the streets and out of trouble. The 24-year-old's success has brought tributes and awards. In November he received a young leader medal in News Ltd's Pride of Australia awards and last Thursday, Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman presented him with a Young Citizen of the Year Award. Hoop Dreamz entered two teams in the Brisbane Basketball tournament last season and, in a dream debut, both made their grand finals last September, the under-18s taking the title.
But their joy quickly soured. Complaints about on-court behaviour during the under-20 grand final resulted in three Hoop Dreamz players being suspended. But Basketball Queensland then went further and commissioned an independent report by lawyer Simon Harrison into allegations by officials about the behaviour of some of the team's supporters. Mr Harrison said that, during the final moments of the final, with Hoop Dreamz likely to lose, a minority of supporters "became agitated and that agitation spilled over into what has to be regarded as inappropriate and, in some circumstances, aggressive behaviours".
The report says that Brisbane Basketball general manager Tracey Wroe, who was officiating at the game, feared for her safety after being surrounded by a group of 30 to 40 supporters after rebuking them for bursting balloons and that she was later assaulted by two girls who threw coins, which hit her in the face. A number of supporters and independent witnesses made statements denying there was threatening behaviour and alleging racist comments by officials. Mr Harrison said he found no evidence of "racist behaviour or attitude".
Officials rang police, reporting a brawl involving 50-plus people outside the stadium after the game but a police report says the group was moved on without incident. Mr Harrison recommended that Basketball Queensland's code of conduct be read to the Hoop Dreamz team before their next game.
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