Coaches right at home

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

If any­one knows how Te Rau­paraha Arena plays as a bas­ket­ball venue, it should be Deslea Wrathall and Pax­man Tau­rima.

The Porirua-based duo have lent their lo­cal knowl­edge as the coach (Wrathall) and as­sis­tant coach of the New Zealand Maori women’s side, which has been tak­ing part in the Ocea­nia cham­pi­onships at the arena. The tour­na­ment wraps up tomorrow. Men’s and women’s teams from Aus­tralia, Fiji, Tahiti, Samoa, Pa­pua New Guinea, Guam and New Cale­do­nia have been com­pet­ing. Wrathall is a vastly ex­pe­ri­enced coach. She re­cently coached the Ju­nior Tall Blacks be­fore be­ing ap­pointed the Maori women’s team coach in July for two years.

She nom­i­nated Laykin Paenga, who is still at Mana Col­lege, as one player to look for, and said her Maori team had plenty of skills, but needed time to­gether.

‘‘’Three of them have turned out for the Tall Ferns and it’s [the Ocea­nia cham­pi­onships] a great chance for them to be looked at [by the na­tional se­lec­tors].’’

Tau­rima and Wrathall said hold­ing the tour­na­ment in Porirua was a shot in the arm for the sport in the city and lo­cal econ­omy.

‘‘It’s huge. Plenty of money comes into Porirua due to this,’’ Wrathall said.

‘‘ Where pos­si­ble we’ve used lo­cal ser­vices and ac­com­mo­da­tion.

‘‘ The sport con­tin­ues to grow in Porirua, es­pe­cially among the ju­niors.’’

Wrathall said she had seen bas­ket­ball sta­di­ums around the world and that Te Rau­paraha Arena was ‘‘as good, if not bet­ter’’ than most as a bas­ket­ball venue.

Porirua was the sec­ond small­est bas­ket­ball as­so­ci­a­tion in Wellington, but of­ten topped re­gional and na­tional se­nior and ju­nior com­pe­ti­tions, she said.

Coach­ing and hav­ing will­ing vol­un­teers made all the dif­fer­ence, Wrathall said.

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