Thanks to the generosity of TAB NZ, on Monday night Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) was able to bring over 100 children and their families to the Tall Blacks game against Lebanon – held at Wellington’s TSB Arena in front of a packed crowd.
The community initiative – run by BBNZ in association with Capital Basketball – saw groups of children and parents from both Porirua and the Hutt regions assemble prior to tip-off, where they were provided with tickets to the game and transport to and from the venue.
Once at the venue, they were each provided with Tall Blacks clothing, dinner vouchers to use at TSB Arena and – of course – a chance to watch the New Zealand men’s national team play their first game in the capital since 2018, all courtesy of the Tall Black’s game day partner TAB.
For 14-year-old Tylah*, the experience was both special and inspirational for the budding young basketballer from Porirua.
“It was awesome, I’ve watched the Tall Blacks on TV but I’ve never been able to see them [live in person] before,” says Tylah.
“I’m really into basketball and playing for the Tall Blacks is like a dream of mine; Jordan [Ngatai] is my favourite player because he came out of Porirua just like me, and he can do anything. Travelling around the world playing basketball would be so cool.”
BBNZ Chief Executive, Dillon Boucher says that experiences like this can be extremely positive and life-changing for youth, especially for those who don’t always have the same opportunities as their peers.
“Thanks to TAB and their generosity, we were able to bring these children and their whānau to our Tall Blacks game, which is an incredible atmosphere which many of these kids had never experienced before,” says Boucher.
“Experiences like this can be galvanising for a child, especially if they’re struggling or are facing significant challenges. They can come away from this game realising that there are opportunities for them – like playing for the Tall Blacks – if they’re willing to put in the hard work and commit themselves.
“And in a wider sense, activities like this can give kids something positive that they will cherish for a long time, because for some children in these regions the idea of going to a stadium and watching a basketball game just isn’t financially possible.”
TAB NZ Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Jodi Williams says they were delighted to be able to support the occasion.
“Basketball is such a popular sport for TAB customers and we’re thrilled we were able to help deliver such a memorable experience for 100 basketball fans,” says Williams.
“There’s nothing quite like a live international sporting event and it was a wonderful occasion to be a part of. We look forward to continuing our partnership with BBNZ and providing more initiatives like this in the future.”
Boucher says that this community activity also complements another recently-introduced youth initiative, the BBNZ Youth Development Fund.
“The BBNZ Youth Development Fund exists to provide financial support to basketball players in the age group national team environment. We know there are talented players out there whose families struggle to meet the costs for international travel and accommodation for national team training camps and tournaments, so this fund helps to alleviate that pressure as much as possible.”
* Name changed for privacy reasons.