Last month Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) visited several Taranaki schools as part of its popular Hoops in Schools initiative, which saw 24 new outdoor hoops installed across 13 locations in the region this year. This was the second year Taranaki had been involved with the programme, with 24 outdoor hoops also installed across schools throughout the region in 2022.
BBNZ’s facilities and insights lead, Dan Dawick said that since Hoops in Schools was created five years ago as a national programme which create spaces for youth to play, it has delivered over 100 hoops around the country.
“It’s about giving more opportunities for tamariki and rangatahi to play basketball, and we know that a lack of facilities was one of our biggest barriers to participation and this helps address that,” says Dawick.
“Basketball is Aotearoa’s fastest growing sport at youth level and we need to look at other ways to create opportunities helping us do that, which is where Hoops in Schools was born out of.”
Joining Dawick at the visits was former Tall Black Tom Abercrombie, BBNZ chief executive Dillon Boucher and Tall Fern Zoe Richards and Basketball Taranaki general manager Kevin Fenwick – along with local players from the Taranaki Airs and Taranaki Thunder.
The group visited new hoops installed in schools in the Stratford, New Plymouth, Waitara, Waverley and Kakaramea areas – with Boucher excited to return to his old Bell Block primary school, where he first played basketball as a nine-year-old.
“I just loved it. My older brothers played it at the school, so I actually think I was too young for the team I started in. But they were short of players one day, so I filled in,” says Boucher.
“Basketball is an awesome sport and [Hoops in Schools] is really about introducing the game to the kids and making it accessible for them. It’s spread all across Taranaki.”
Fenwick says having the players come to the schools was fantastic, especially to the more remote schools such as Pembroke and Toko that don’t often have their sporting heroes visit.
“The kids absolutely loved it; we wanted to reach the rural parts of Taranaki and we’re pleased that we did,” says Fenwick.
“These players were fantastic, especially Tom [Abercrombie] who’s been involved in the Hoops in Schools programme for the last five years. Having these players come to the schools is positive not only for the sport, but for the schools and communities as well – as they meet these sporting heroes and become inspired to be active and get involved with the game.”
The Taranaki tour was funded by the New Zealand Community Trust, who have provided $150,000 in support of the past two years which has proven critical to the programme’s success.