Winning only one game does not paint the full picture of Northland's wheelchair basketball team's efforts at the northern league competition at ASB Stadium on Saturday.
Northland, a second division team, put up great resistance against three first division teams despite recording three losses from four games. Playing against Auckland, Waikato A and Midwest, the home team showed great fight and spirit to challenge teams with national level players.
With a recent decline in players across the country, the decision was made to scrap the second division for now and persist with a single division. According to Northland coach Glenn McDonald, his side's performances exceeded expectations.
"Against Auckland, we did exceptionally well," he said.
"We only lost by about 10 points which is better than I would have expected against them, some of the boys that don't usually hit too many shots managed find their range in that first game."
After coming close to Auckland, Northland were convincingly beaten by Waikato A before finishing within 10 points of first division team, Midwest, which was a great achievement.
"We would never have expected to be within striking range of them and we played really well, probably our best game as a team on defence and offence," McDonald said.
Northland finished the day well with a win over fellow second division team, Waikato B, which McDonald said was an expected result. He highlighted the team's youngest member, Jaden Kauwhata, as one of the shining lights of the competition.
"[Jaden] probably had his best tournament, he just stepped up and composed himself a lot more, taking his time and shooting the ball well."
Kauwhata paired well with Northland's two New Zealand senior men's team squad members Derek Donker and Jamie Tapp throughout the competition. McDonald said Tapp played his role as captain well in all four games.
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"[Tapp's] all-round game is on the rise, he co-ordinates players around him and facilitates our offence and defence, we definitely noticed the difference when he was off the court."
While Saturday's tournament was a great opportunity to see the potential in Northland's wheelchair basketball programme, McDonald said funding and boosting interest in the sport were two massive obstacles.
McDonald, also a New Zealand senior men's team assistant coach, said even national players were expected to cover some costs for international competitions, which was very rare in other countries.
At a regional level, he said funding for travel and equipment was scarce but highlighted the support from Parafed Northland as an essential resource.
"We are really lucky up here with the support we get from Parafed Northland," McDonald said.
"They are great people to have involved not only for the financial support but also helping with running the tournament."
Formerly a coach in Auckland, McDonald was determined to see the game grow in Northland and reinforce the idea that almost anyone with a physical disability can play wheelchair basketball.
In the sport, physical disabilities are given a classification which corresponds to a number between 1 and 4.5. In a five-person team, the total score of those players must equal or be below 14 which ensures players with more-impeding disabilities were not overlooked.
McDonald encouraged people to get involved in the sport as it featured both a social and competitive side.
"If you love competition and sweating it up in fun way, get involved because there are pathways for those serious about sport and if you just want to get fit, there's that option too."
For more information, contact Parafed Northland.