Children and families were joined by special guests at the opening of the new basketball court in Flaxmere today.
Tall Black Tom Abercrombie, Tall Fern Tayla Dalton and Hawke's Bay Hawks players Ethan Rusbatch and Derone Raukawa opened the basketball court at Ron Giorgi III Park.
It is the first court to open of the national Hoops in Parks programme being trialled in Hastings.
The programme is a partnership between Hastings District Council, Basketball New Zealand, Basketball Hawke's Bay and Sport Hawke's Bay and when the Flaxmere Park court is complete, most Flaxmere residents will be a 10-minute walk from a basketball court.
Abercrombie said he got involved in basketball at age 8 playing on his school court and putting the hoops up and down every day.
Since then, "outdoor hoops have come a long way" and the two hoops up at the park "are as good as it gets".
"But the concept is still the same, getting out and playing with your friends. D0eveloping that enjoyment is where it all started for me and hopefully it starts for these guys.
"I think basketball is just one of those sports that's really easy to do, you can play by yourself or grab a couple of mates, all you need is a ball and now they've got a hoop."
He hoped the court would be a hub for people to meet with their friends and enjoy the game.
"These places can really bring communities together."
As basketball is "often male dominated", Dalton came to the opening as part of the Tall Ferns programme.
She noted the girls participating on the day were "showing these boys up" with their skills and believes the more girls coming to local courts, the better for the sport.
Starting at age 6, she began basketball through school and would go to her local park to practice with her brothers.
"I love being able to participate and help grow basketball, particularly for women in our country. The more girls we can get playing the sport the better."
Currently on a basketball scholarship in the United States, she wanted the children to know about the opportunities the sport can bring.
"Sport is just such a powerful vehicle to take you where you want and it teaches you valuable life lessons from leadership to communication to resilience when things don't go your way."