A LACK of good gear is seen as being a big barrier to participation in sport, so a Tairawhiti health organisation is helping to bust those barriers down.
Turanga Health in December oversaw the unveiling of new basketball hoops and backboards at Te Karaka Area, Gisborne Girls' High and Gisborne Boys' High schools, adding to those already installed at the city's Cobham and Elgin schools.
They are all part of the joint Hoops In Schools programme, co-run in the region by Basketball New Zealand and Turanga Health, and funded by Turanga Health.
And the latest hoops got a big christening with towering Tall Blacks legend Pero Cameron and Tall Fern guard Lauryn Hippolite in town to mark the occasion, taking students through their paces while they were at it.
The Tairawhiti Hoops In Schools project was founded in 2020 when Turanga Health told Basketball NZ that Cobham kids were using a bottomless bucket for a basketball hoop . . . and even that was an improvement on how they used to play “air” shots.
Turanga Health events co-ordinator Dallas Poi says it is a massive addition to the promotion of wellbeing through the sport, which has long been part of Turanga Health's programme.
Basketball is the second most popular sport for all secondary school-aged children, an age when participation in sport tends to drop away. Of the seven biggest sports in schools (football, netball, rugby, volleyball, hockey, cricket and basketball), it is one of only two to show growth in the last five years, and is on track to become the most popular of all secondary school sports.
“Basketball is such a big sport for Maori and is a great way to get tamariki and rangatahi active,” Dallas says.
Having Pero on court brought his experience not just around achieving big things in international sport, but also in making his way in the world with real mana, she added.
“We've always seen basketball as a great way to engage rangatahi in particular, and you don't get any bigger than Pero Cameron!”
Together with other Turanga Health kaiawhina, Luke Bradley delivers the programme to young people at kura throughout the region, as well as supporting Gisborne Basketball Association events.
“There is so much benefit to be gained in everything from physical fitness to developing leadership skills, so it is really rewarding work,” Luke says.
“While we do see some amazing raw talent and flair out there, we're not really looking for superstars. We're looking at improving engagement by catering for all skill levels, so all our young people can stay active and be part of the game.”
Pero Cameron says basketball is a fantastic way to reconnect with young people who have missed out on so much over the nearly two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Luke agrees.
“In recent times it has seemed that, every time we got a groove going with the young people in schools, a lockdown came and they didn't get to take part,” he says.
“That's why it was so great to have Pero and Lauryn here to see the year out. Through basketball, we were able to re-engage with tamariki and rangatahi and it was nice to get out there and see their smiles again.”
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