New Orleans — The third season of the NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Basketball League begins Saturday at KIPP Central City High School, 2514 Third St., city officials announced this week.

The inaugural season kicked off in January 2012, and last season the league drew nearly 1,0000 participants, according to a city news release said.

NOLA FOR LIFE Midnight Basketball will consist of a series of 5-on-5 tournaments from 8 p.m. to midnight each Saturday from March 2 until May 4. It is free of charge and open to males over 16 years old. Each Saturday night tournament follows an NCAA-type tournament structure.

In addition to providing safe recreational opportunities in crime hot spots for young men through the game of basketball, mentorship and educational support are also key components of the program each Saturday.

“We are very excited to kick off the third season of our Midnight Basketball League,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “Being able to provide safe and worthwhile opportunities for our young men is vital if we are to truly change the culture of violence on New Orleans’ streets.”

The first season was launched in early 2012 as a result of the Saving Our Sons Crime Action Summit in partnership with the New Orleans Hornets and ran from January to March. Initially, the tournaments took place every other Saturday night at the St. Bernard Center. Last season, the program moved to Joseph Clark Preparatory High School in the Tremé neighborhood. This season it moves to Central City.

Through the enrichment portion of the program, positive role models from the community — entrepreneurs, local business owners and community leaders — will engage the participants of Midnight Basketball through mentorship, conversation and collaboration.

NOLA FOR LIFE is Landrieu’s comprehensive murder reduction strategy to tackle the city’s historically high murder rate.