Basketball New Zealand has been introducing more young Kiwi talents to the National Style of Play during regional Under 15 sessions.
Wellington and North Canterbury are two recent locations that host national team coaches, which saw a total of 131 boys and girls from across the South Island and Lower North Island. They had the opportunity to meet and listen to current Tall Blacks Head Coach Pero Cameron, who spoke about what it means to represent the black singlet. U17 National Junior Team Coaches, Mel Bennet and Leyton Haddleton were also there to run on-court sessions.
This is the first year that these events have been run regionally. National Pathways Manager, Mel Downer, says the move to running these events in more places provides increased opportunities for young people to get a taste of the national programme.
“Getting more of these young athletes into a black training-singlet is really exciting for them. They get to feel some of that pride of being in black and it perhaps fosters aspirations to represent New Zealand one day.
“The regional camps also reduce the need for families to travel, so it takes the pressure off financially. And being local also aligns more with the Balance is Better philosophy by giving more young people the opportunity to step on court and play.”
Downer added that the camps gave the athletes an opportunity to connect with and play alongside their peers in what has been a disrupted competition calendar for young people due to COVID-19 over the past two years.
“To have been able to provide these activities to those athletes who have been deprived of basketball events over the past two years is fantastic. Being able to come into the communities of our athletes and deliver these opportunities gives all our members a chance to have fun, develop and learn something new whilst connecting with friends. It’s a brilliant environment full of smiles and a shared love of the game,” says Downer.
Whilst COVID-19 has prevented scheduled camps from being held in Auckland and Rotorua, Downers says they are still looking to hold these events when restrictions allow.