Funding snub for top academy

By Lawrence Gullery


A basketball academy based in Hawke's Bay, which is inspiring families from all over the country, has missed out on crucial funding to deliver its leadership programme for young people over the next year.

Basketball Olympians Paora Winitana and Paul Henare are the well-known figures behind the academy which began operating from the Hastings Sports centre and Flaxrock Community Centre in 2011.

The academy's application to the Hastings District Council's community grant fund was among eight programmes, aimed at helping young people, declined in a decision to be confirmed by the council tomorrow.

Mr Winitana presented to the council's community grants committee earlier this month where he outlined the academy's request for $62,000 to provide its leadership programme.

He said the free, 24-week programme, which targeted 12 to 18-year-olds, had significant interest in its first year but in order for it to be sustainable, it needed the support of organisations such as the council.

It had 35 places for athletes and their families, was aligned with the school terms and was run between 5.45am to 7.45am.

"We've had a single mother and her two sons who have moved up here to Hawke's Bay from Christchurch to go through the academy. They've relocated here after hearing of the academy," Mr Winitana said.

Mr Winitana said people had heard of the academy through groups such as Basketball New Zealand and Basketball Hawke's Bay.

"The rewards of the academy's work is going to come in three to four years when we see these young people get into New Zealand age group teams."

Mr Winitana said the academy also worked to encourage young people to make better choices in life.

"Everyone knows that I'm a former Tall Black and the son of a mobster. Some of the challenges rangatahi are going through are real and the positive impact a role model can make can really make a difference to their lives.

"We want to be there for our rangatahi, not just for one event, but throughout the year, annually, that's where the change can happen."

The community grants committee had $400,000 in its contestable fund but had 42 applications which totalled more than $1 million.

It declined 16 applications, about half of which had a youth focus.

The balance of the fund, $54,679, would go to youth development in Hastings in an attempt to see if programmes such as the academy's worked with others with a similar focus on young people.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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