It’s been a busy and successful year in the outdoor facility space for Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ), thanks to its Hoops in Parks initiative – with over 65 hoops installed across Aotearoa in 2022 alone, including five new hoops just before Christmas
Hoops in Parks is a programme which works to give communities more places to shoot hoops, by utilising existing council land and green space – and working with local regional councils, sports trusts and basketball associations to make it all happen.
Although basketball is one of the most widely played sports in New Zealand, many local communities are unable to support this growth and cater for the growing demand – mainly due to a lack of basketball backboards and courts in outdoor recreational areas.
With this lack of suitable indoor and outdoor facilities currently one of basketball’s biggest barriers in Aotearoa, the idea of Hoops in Parks was introduced; its aim to provide more sustainable, long term participation opportunities for communities, as well as providing another outlet to increase physical activity outside of a school setting – an ever-increasing concern for the well-being of tamariki and rangatahi.
Over the past month, a trio of outdoor locations have all benefitted from the Hoops in Parks initiative.
A half court was opened was opened on 27 November at the Essex Street Reserve, as a collaboration between BBNZ, Napier City Council, Sport Hawke’s Bay and Basketball Hawke’s Bay. In addition to the new half court being officially opened, a new playground in the reserve was also launched at the same time – with Tall Black Ethan Rusbatch in attendance.
BBNZ Facilities and Insights Lead, Daniel Dawick, says being able to provide accessible basketball opportunities for local tamariki, rangatahi and their whanau is vital.
“We want everyone to be able have the chance to shoot some hoops, play with their mates and to get up and about. Hoops in Parks is helping us achieve this goal by removing any barriers that our young people may have experienced in the past.
“The Hoops in Parks initiative continues to build momentum across the motu thanks to a number of great partnerships, including this one with Napier City Council.”
On 11 December, a refurbished court was opened in Whanganui at the Castlecliff Domain.
A collaboration between BBNZ, Sport Whanganui, Basketball Whanganui and Whanganui District Council – with funding support provided by the Lion Foundation – the court opening was followed by a Kiwi Hoops coaching session for local coaches; Mainland Pouakai athlete Tessa Morrison, Manawatu Jets Head Coach Natu Taufale and former NBL stalwart Matt Te Huna all on hand for this session.
Sport Whanganui’s Active Communities Manager, Jodie Brunger says that Hoops in Parks has created an opportunity to revitalise a community space.
“The greatest outcome though this process has been how it has strengthened the connection with the local basketball organisation, Basketball NZ, Whanganui District Council and the Castlecliff community,” says Brunger.
“Everyone contributed to the process from its inception right through to the launch. It has been a privilege to be part of such an outstanding community initiative.”
Taufale says that the Property Broker Jets are excited to support the Manawatu and wider Manawatu region by delivering the Kiwi Hoops Coach and Player programme in 2023.
“We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with Basketball NZ and Sport Whanganui in delivering the Kiwi Hoops coaching course as part of the Hoops in Parks opening; it’s a refreshing reminder that the key influencer, the coach, also needs ongoing support and development to be able to provide that positive and meaningful experience for tamariki,” says Taufale.
And over the past weekend, a pair of new beachfront half courts opened on 17 December at Waikanae Beach in Gisborne. A collaboration between BBNZ, Gisborne District Council, Gisborne Basketball, Sport Gisborne and Hoeā! Gallery – with funding support provided by Grassroots Trust – these courts stood out for their stunning court artwork designed by Melanie Tangaere Baldwin of Hoeā! Gallery.
“The patterning references the whakatauki ‘poipoia te kakano kia puawai’ and ‘kaua e mate wheke, kia mate ururoa’, which when combined speak to the relentless pursuit of growth and excellence, that can only happen with the support of the community,” says Ms Baldwin.
Gisborne District Council’s Liveable Spaces Planning Team Leader, Tyler Kirk says that consultation for this project took place over winter, predominantly with young people and their whānau.
“The resounding feedback was that young people, and their whānau wanted to have a quality court at the beach – and as much as possible, we aim to create flexibility and multi-use of our facilities,” says Kirk.
Rusbatch was also present at this event, flying in from Christchurch for the opening and was excited to be a part of an event celebrating the new facilities.
“Being a basketball player myself, I know what basketball’s like — it brings a lot of people together,” he said.
“It’s easy to turn up at a court and play basketball by yourself or with strangers, and all of a sudden you become friends. A lot of places don’t get things like this – if I grew up and had these around the corner from me, I’d be loving it.”
The Hoops in Parks initiative, along with its sister project Hoops in Schools, will re-commence in 2023 with a pair of events on the cards; a return to Gisborne in February for a Hoops in Schools project, followed by the rolling out of 24 outdoor hoops across selected Taranaki Schools later in the year.
Find out more about Hoops in Parks here.
Learn more about Hoops in Schools here.