A special basketball event in Rotorua over three days this week will be the first opportunity for many young Maori basketballers to experience a national tournament.
The National Maori Basketball Tournament is the second largest basketball tournament held annually in New Zealand and six teams from under-11 age through to an open women's team will represent Tauranga Moana. The tournament runs from Thursday to Saturday and has attracted nearly 50 teams nationwide, including wheelchair and Special Olympics basketball.
Tauranga City Basketball general manager Mark Rogers said it was an important opportunity to reach more of their community.
It is expensive to play basketball so here is an opportunity for them to play reasonably cheaply.
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"It puts us in touch with people that traditionally haven't had contact with the association, particularly around the rep programme and development programme. It is an avenue for those kids to get involved at a higher level," Rogers said.
"The fact it is in Rotorua means it is reasonably affordable so that is another really positive thing about the event. It is expensive to play basketball so here is an opportunity for them to play reasonably cheaply."
Antoine Coffin is one of the Tauranga City Basketball head coaches, along with Rachel Gwerder, Spencer Webster and Joe Broughton, who will work with the Tauranga teams this week.
Coffin said there were so many talented players here in Tauranga and a lot of them were Maori kids.
"There are pathways to play basketball with their school or through the rep programme but for some of our kids they may not have access to that. They are long seasons and they cost a lot in resource and time for kids and parents so this is a good opportunity for our Maori kids to have an experience at national level over a short period of time," Coffin said.
"It is intense and they will get a taste of playing at a national level. My focus is to get these kids doing something really positive and working with others in a team environment and sharing with who they are and where they come from."
Tauranga's latest two New Zealand reps will be in action in Rotorua this week.
Briarley Rogers, 14, from Aquinas College was selected in the New Zealand Under-16 girls' team with Shalom Broughton, 14, from Mount Maunganui College making the Under-16 boys' team.
"We had Kelcy Ballantyne from Otumoetai last year make it so it is great to see we have kids coming from the various schools that are making New Zealand squads," Rogers said. "They are both great kids. They are very encouraging of other kids, both great role models and great leaders. They are the future of our sport so we are very excited they have made that step to the next level.
"It is very encouraging. We have spent five years building our programmes. The growth at the base in mini ball is huge, we are starting to see success at the top as well, so it is really positive."