Oyiti’s legacy continues to score

Joshua Piech Meat with organiser Nyibil Amum at last year's Oyiti Foundation Cup.

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

Hundreds are expected to return to a growing basketball tradition in Dandenong that targets young people’s mental health.

Up to 30 teams from across Melbourne will be taking part on 12-13 April in the second annual Oyiti Foundation Cup at the Hoops 24/7 centre in Dandenong.

Oyiti Foundation head Nyibil Amum, of Cranbourne, said the tournament is about mental health rather than lifting up the trophy.

“We want everyone whether they’re a player or in the audience to go away a winner.

“The main target is bringing them together.”

Amum set up the Oyiti Foundation and the tournament in memory of his late son Oyiti, a talented young leader who played college basketball in the US and took his life three years ago.

Inspiringly, the bereaved father trekked on foot from Melbourne to Canberra and Sydney raising funds to tackle the tragic scourge of youth suicide in African-Australian and CALD communities.

Along the way, he met with the then Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

He raised $10,000 to set up the foundation as a “voice for the voiceless”.

Now with State Government support, the foundation runs a weekly homework club, basketball training and monthly mental health awareness sessions for more than 20 youths.

Amum says the foundation is not just about celebrating Oyiti any more. It’s about preventing young people from suffering the same fate as his son.

Recently, as a sign of its growing reach, Oyiti Foundation was a finalist in national suicide prevention awards.

“At the awards, we went there and celebrated with those who won awards. For us we’re so happy to see so many organisations doing much better than us – and we can learn from them.”

This year, it has launched facilitator training for sports coaches and leaders of womens groups and faith groups.

The initial intake of nine has trained with mental health professionals in order to help young people in their midst.

“There were many people who wanted to be facilitators in the program. We had to have people go through an interview process and we chose the best.”

A short doco film The Voice on the training sessions is expected to be released in the next month.

There are also plans for a podcast featuring mental-health professionals as guests.

Registrations for the Oyiti Cup are open at aau-aus.com.au

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