Basketball New Zealand is making a play to lure Kiwi girls to basketball through a new six-week introductory girls’ basketball programme called Girls Got Game.
The have-a-go programme is designed by women, including Tall Fern Josie Stockill. It places more focus on being active, having fun and participating with friends. The course fosters a non-competitive environment and is run by female coaches.
Girls Got Game was officially launched today at the opening of the Women’s Basketball Championships (WBC) with Tall Ferns from a number of teams lending their support by becoming ambassadors of the programme including Kalani Purcell and Jordan Hunter (Auckland Dream), Nicole Ruske (Otago), Penina Davidson (Harbour Breeze).
Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive Iain Potter says the basketball community must to do better to attract girls to the game.
“We know that, as a sport, we have a lot of work to do to see more girls and women playing basketball. The School Sport New Zealand Census certainly makes it clear: in 2018 there were 26,481 secondary school students playing basketball. Of those, 7983 were girls. We see that as an opportunity and we want to significantly boost that number. We want as many girls playing as boys,” says Mr Potter.
The programme will be rolled out by regional basketball associations across the country and WBC teams are partnering with the programme in Auckland, Taranaki, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago. Girls Got Game is also available to schools, clubs or other local association centres. Associations will start offering programmes to schools in Term Two, aimed mainly at primary and intermediate girls aged five to 12.
One of those Associations is the Canterbury Basketball Association (CBA). Chief Executive Paul Duggan says he’s anticipating another jump in participation.
“Canterbury basketball has long had a strategic goal to increase the participation rates of females playing basketball. The Girls Got Game initiative is a great way to introduce girls to the sport in a friendly, encouraging and supportive environment. The programme aims to have girls begin to master new skills in a social rather than competitive setting, which then increases enjoyment and retention. The CBA hopes to roll out Girls Got Game across primary and intermediate schools using the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats team members to deliver the programme,” says Mr Duggan.
Girls Got Game is based on Basketball New Zealand’s junior programme called Kiwi Hoops, which had 19,190 Kiwi Kids participating in 2018. The Girls Got Game course can be modified to suit the needs and resources of participants, schools and providers. Basketball New Zealand says it may take some weeks before it’s widely available, but girls can sign up by contacting their local basketball association to find out when courses are being offered and ask for their names to be added to the list.
Basketball New Zealand says this programme is now an important foundation into the playing pathway for girls. Already there are more Kiwi women playing in US Colleges on scholarship than men. Internationally the Tall Ferns have proven their talent with a Bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games, and Gold Medal at the FIBA 3×3 Asia Cup and qualifying for the 3×3 World Cup early this week, and there are more New Zealand girls junior teams qualifying for FIBA Asia and World Cups than ever before. It seems basketball opportunities are only getting better for Kiwi girls.
The Girls Got Game resources are available for free at www.nz.basketball/girlsgotgame.