Big Brothers Vancouver hopes to net new volunteers through hoop project

Big Brothers Vancouver hopes to net new volunteers through hoop project

Big Brothers Vancouver is getting a helping hand recruiting new volunteers from a former little brother.

Brodan Thiel, 28, says Big Brothers played a key role in his childhood.

"As a kid, I had an absent father at home and this was an outlet for me to get through and have a role model in the community," he said.

Sports — especially basketball — was something he enjoyed playing with his big brother mentor.

Thiel went on to university, playing basketball with the Camosun College Chargers, Capilano University Blues and the Quest University Kermodes.

Thiel currently runs a basketball camp, and he says two years ago he began a grassroots initiative to install nets in basketball hoops with missing nets.

Under the program, a school or student or court user can tag an empty hoop with the hashtag #swishinmission on Instagram, Thiel said, and then he would go out and put up the net he had purchased himself.

"When you go to a park and when you're shooting and there's no feedback [because there's no net], it's not very enjoyable," he explained, adding spending time running after the ball, because there's no net to direct the ball, is a waste of time.

Last year, he says he purchased around 100 nets of relatively good quality so that they would last.

Now, Big Brothers Vancouver has partnered with Thiel to provide purple nets — purple is its brand colour — and has taken the project under its umbrella.

The organization is even sending out some purple nets with its basketball-playing big and little brothers, so they can put up nets together.

Thiel said it was a perfect match of values, and best of all, he says it will help address a critical volunteer shortage.

"There's a huge need for this in our community ... Big Brothers gave me the opportunity to grow and develop as a young child and it would be beneficial if more people could get on board," he explained.

Big Brothers Vancouver says there are two-year wait-lists in Surrey and Richmond.

It is currently recruiting as many as 400 volunteers, who can commit to one hour, every week for a year.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Purple nets project puts the spotlight on Big Brothers