Every year the New Zealand School Sport survey has shown Kiwi secondary-school kids are flocking to basketball like never before, and now it seems their younger brothers and sisters are doing the same.
Today Basketball New Zealand (BBNZ) released participation figures for younger Kiwis, between five and 13 years of age, who attended a have-a-go basketball programme named Kiwi Hoops.
Kiwi Hoops was launched in 2015, which saw 7200 Kiwi kids take part in the first 12 months. Last year 23,042 young Kiwis participated, which is a 20 percent increase in participation from 2018, and a 220 percent increase in participation since its inaugural year.
The programme is delivered by regional basketball associations to primary schools. BBNZ Community Basketball General Manager, Brad Edwards, says BBNZ is thrilled with the consistent participation-increase.
“The growth has been really positive along with ongoing growth in Associations that have invested in the programme, notably Capital basketball, but also Basketball Hawke’s Bay and Southland Basketball. Auckland Basketball Services was another stand out and did brilliantly with this programme too.
“For the past five years BBNZ has provided funding to Associations to support delivery in 12 regions around the country. We have developed programme guides, session plans and provided equipment such as balls, drink bottles & bags.
Kiwi Hoops is broken up into four stages to align with schooling years. ‘Bounce’ is for years one and two, ‘Mini’ for years three and four, ‘Pro’ for years five and six, and ‘All-Star’ for years seven and eight. The focus and format of each stage changes based on the developmental needs of players.
General Manager of the Capital Zone Basketball Trust, Damien Ekenasio says the Kiwi Hoops programme has been tremendously popular with the schools they are working with.
“Kiwi Hoops is all about fundamentals, with emphasis on ‘fun’. Learning the game through fun games is the reason children love it so much. Children, parents and teachers are loving Kiwi Hoops! Every year numbers have grown with last year being the biggest with over 5000 kids participating in Kiwi Hoops across our Capital Zone.
“The programme’s success in our region comes down to our staff. We have good people and that makes for great basketball coaches, which is reflective in such positive feedback from every school we partner with,” says Ekenasio.
Edwards agrees and says that good people to administer the course is essential to continue this positive growth.
“There is still significant scope for growth as many other Associations have yet to include Kiwi Hoops as a core programme, but as we train more coaches, and hopefully retain and access more funding, we can see Kiwi Hoops in more areas.
“We also provide leadership and training for Regional Coach Developers who deliver Kiwi Hoops Coach education, and train up Kiwi Hoops coaches to deliver the programme into schools and clubs,” says Edwards.
Good facilities are also needed to provide more opportunities to play. Edwards says facilities is a major obstacle for some regions. For that reason, Basketball New Zealand has created the ‘Hoops in Schools’ programme, which is another initiative that sits under the Kiwi Hoops brand. The project sees BBNZ work with the local Associations to apply for funding that goes towards the installation of new hoops throughout the regions.
The most recent ‘Hoops in Schools’ installment was done in Tauranga, where 12 schools received a set of hoops of quality street hoops. Previous to this, 12 schools in South Auckland opened a new basketball facility. Other areas that are working on Hoops in Schools funding proposals include Manawatu and Hawke’s Bay. Edwards says providing good facilities is another catalyst to see a jump in Kiwi Hoops participation numbers.
“We know Kiwi Hoops courses have jumped in South Auckland, not long after the ‘Hoops in Schools’ hoops were installed. Most of those ten schools went from not playing basketball, or almost no basketball, to having teams in local competitions and kids loving the game. School principals have told us that the hoops are in constant use,” says Edwards.
The nationwide COVID-19 lockdown has brought Kiwi Hoops to a halt, but Edwards says Basketball New Zealand is fine-tuning the programme for when it returns.
“It’s an uncertain time right now and we know many Associations are facing a difficult time. It’s hard to know what the year ahead looks like, but we are hoping to continue the good work in the near future and team up with our Associations to see more kids getting the chance to play. It’s all about having a go, having fun, without pressure. Just getting outside and playing game – that’s where the love for sport starts.”
Despite the lockdown, Kiwi Hoops style drills and skills are still available to young players – Basketball New Zealand has worked with Sky Sport Next and a handful of Tall Blacks and Tall Ferns to record fun skills that can be practiced at home, and then working with Sky to broadcast them on Sky Sport Next, Sky’s free YouTube Channel. You can see those drills here.
Kiwi Hoops Participation:
- 2015: 7185
- 2016: 11,075
- 2017: 14,423
- 2018: 19,190
- 2019: 23, 042