Resilience in Basketball amidst Pandemic

April 1, 2022, 3:35 p.m.

Rangatahi who play in the Taitokerau basketball tournaments have felt the impact of COVID-19. Usually held at the Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Rangi Āniwaniwa gymnasium, grades across year one, intermediate, seniors, masters to representative level have had their usual weekly routine put to a halt. 

Adjustments have been made to the season by coaching and management staff to suit the rising and lowering of alert levels, now traffic light levels. Vaccination passes have been a requirement over the last two years for players and supporters and a limit of 100 people inside the gymnasium was practised.

Local basketball organisations haven’t let the grass grow beneath their feet though, creating strong collaborations between organisations across Muriwhenua to keep rangatahi spirits high and participation progressing in the sport across all levels and roles to some level.

"We know you are all wanting to get back onto the courts and play ball. Kaitaia Basketball Association have been working behind the scenes to find a safe way to provide a programme for you. Unfortunately this won’t take place until Term 2. We know you will be disappointed but we are doing everything we can to ensure we have a program ready for you. Expect some exciting new changes and more opportunities" said Yvette Parlour (Kaitaia Basketball Association Committee Member).

Rangatahi have shown great resilience during this time. For some, sport is a passion, a routine, not only something to add fun, but also sportsmanship, comradery, life skills, social skills, independence and problem solving skills to their kete as they begin to reach adolesence. The four cornerstones of Maori health, known as ‘Te Whare Tapa Whā’, explains what ‘Taha Tinana’ is and how it contributes to a healthy mind as well as body;

“Taha Tinana as your physical wellbeing. It is about how your body grows, feels and moves, and how you care for it. Nourishing and strengthening your physical wellbeing helps you to cope with the ups and the downs and life. Feeling physically well helps you feel mentally well.” 

This module is incorporated across all frameworks within everyday living, where a balance of hinengaro, wairua, tinana and whanau are required to improve outcomes for an individual. It is well reflected across sports where rangatahi are exposed to social environments that build their independence, confidence, interactive skills, coordination, endurance, teamwork, communication, mental wellbeing, emotions, discipline and routine. The benefits of sport, not only in basketball, are evident in the development of our rangatahi. 

Raymond Cameron of Pipiwai (Basketball coach for rangatahi) spoke to Te Hiku Media on the positive benefits that sports and basketball have for our rangatahi.

"My mother was a driver of sports and used it to excel and progress in life. She led the way for my sisters and myself and we have competed on international levels and other representative levels. Sports definitely helps challenge rangatahi, we try to help increase their knowledge and help give a focus for them" said Cameron.

The most recent push to support rangatahi in their love to shoot hoops is by Northland Basketball's General Manager, Josh Port, with the help of a combined donation to the value of $130,000 from GameSide NZ, GrassRoots Trust, Oxford Sports Trust, Sports Northland, and community fundraisers.

"We are the number one sport in Northland in terms of participation, but we have the least number of facilities – apart from hockey – to be able to play the sport. Before the project started there were only 11 functional hoops across Northland and now there are 62. People won't be able to play if it's raining or too sunny, and we can't hold competitions, and so it is a band-aid over alot bigger problem ... but it is a step in the right direction" said Port.

Ngapae Holiday Park, owned by Ngai Takoto iwi and located along Te Oneroa a Tohe, will soon have a new community basketball hoop installed on site.

"We have been hit quite hard by the pandemic. We have seen a drastic reduction in visitors so we need to start to shift our focus to suit the environment. This means a more local focus and providing extra facilities for our manuhiri with children, local rangatahi, our iwi rangatahi who have a passion for sports and we can also put more attention to hosting sports camps like we have in the past. The pandemic won't be here forever" said Keryn Pivac (Operations Manager).

Waimanoni Marae, Parapara Marae, Te Patunga Marae, Waitaruke Marae, Te Runanga nui o Te Aupouri, Waiora Marae in Ngataki,  Takahue, Ahipara, Takahiwai and Rawene School were some of the lucky recipients. The basketball hoops are professionally installed and of of top quality. Te Puni Kokiri’s ‘ Ngā Maori i Ngā Mahi Tākaro’ Report (Māori in Sport and Active Leisure Report) explains that 71% of rangatahi aged between 5 - 17 years old are active and basketball is in the top five sports that Māori seem to favour. We know rangatahi are going to make very good use of these gifts.

Under 15 boys had their trials for Northland basketball and over 45 rangatahi attended. McKay Stadium in Kensington, Whangarei, was bustling with activity and it was a positive step toward rebuilding enthusiasm and team spirit across the board.  The collective effort from management, coaching staff, venue providers and of course, rangatahi who still put in hours of hope that one day their favourite sport would return post COVID-19 is admirable.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing on the 4th of April, we can expect a maximum of 200 people allowed inside for indoor events, and no limit on numbers for outdoor events. This means that the Term 2 basketball season will be a highly anticipated activity for rangatahi with lots of energy to give. Tribal Wars is set to be the first big tournament since the pandemic hit and will be held at McKay Stadium in Whangarei over Easter.

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