CHAMPION IN MAKING
ELLA Tofaeono has gone from being a tall primary school student who did not ‘fit in’ to a champion basketball player. The towering teenager recently won the Karen Dalton Junior Metro competition basketball Female Player of the Year award.
Tofaeono was also named in the Waratah League AllStar Five.
It’s been a busy year for the 19-year-old from Oakhurst. In August, she was named best defensive player in the Waratah League 2016 All-Star Fives for Youth League Division 1 and was selected in the under-20s NSW squad.
After a knee injury forced Tofaeono out of the NSW under-18 side in 2015, she came back fighting and was rewarded with the outstanding season studded with accolades. And this month, she became the inaugural winner of Basketball NSW’s Karen Dalton Award.
Youth League coach Leoni Moore said Tofaeono had the skills to play multiple roles on the court.
“She’s always been tall for her age so she generally plays in the centre but she has a skill set that allows her to play multiple roles which is one of the reasons she was selected to the All-Star Fives,” Moore said.
While she has enjoyed success this season – her sixth playing basketball – Tofaeono said she was ready to quit after her first year.
“Then I started to improve and get somewhere that I never imagined I could,” she said.
As a primary school student, she said, she would often get into trouble, and credits basketball with getting her life back on track.
“I have so much structure in my life and I’m held accountable for things,” she said. “I have grown and matured, in basketball and because of basketball.
“My ultimate goal is to inspire; to use basketball as my platform to inspire young teenagers ... especially from the Mt Druitt area.
“I feel people conform to stereotypes. I want to break those stereotypes, especially for Islander people and people from Mt Druitt.”
My ultimate goal is to inspire … young teenagers … especially from the Mt Druitt area.
Penrith Panthers Youth League centre Ella Tofaeono in action this season. Picture: Noel Rowsell (photoexcellence.com.au)