Maori bas­ket­ball helps kids

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

For the first time ever rep­re­sen­ta­tives from South Waikato iwi Ruakawa have com­peted as a col­lec­tive in the an­nual Na­tional Maori Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment.

Raukawa Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion chair­per­son Melissa Daw­son and sec­re­tary Natasha Vano said five teams took part in the Ro­torua based tour­na­ment, in­clud­ing un­der 11 teams for boys and girls, an un­der 13 team of boys, an un­der 15 team of girls, and an open men’s team.

Daw­son said the aim was to give youth a pos­i­tive path­way to fol­low.

‘‘What’s hap­pen­ing In Toko­roa is kids are get­ting caught up in gang and cy­ber life which is un­re­al­is­tic stuff so our thing is we want to build up our kids, not just Maori kids, kids in gen­eral, and give them a path­way,’’ she said.

Vano said the teams had mixed re­sults dur­ing the tour­na­ment but ev­ery­one had a good time.

‘‘We had around 50 play­ers and they were awe­some,’’ she said.

‘‘The Un­der 11 Boys placed third in the B grade and got a bronze medal, the Un­der 11 Girls came fourth, Un­der 13 Boys came fourth in the A grade, and the Un­der 15 Girls had a awe­some time con­sid­er­ing only three of their play­ers had played be­fore.’’

‘‘Our men’s team should have done bet­ter, they only won one game, but they loved it and en­joyed it any­way. It was the first proper tour­na­ment most of them had been to so it was a good learning curve,’’ she said.

She said it’s now hoped bas­ket­ball will grow fur­ther in the South Waikato which has tra­di­tion­ally been a rugby league strong­hold.

‘‘I think Steven Adams has helped the hype and be­ing able to get to NBA has boosted bas­ket­ball in New Zealand,’’ she said.

‘‘Ev­ery­one wanted to be Michael Jor­dan and Lebron James but now they want to be Steven Adams and it is re­ally cool he is from Ro­torua which is just over there. It’s given our kids hope that they too can achieve what he has.’’

Daw­son said the tour­na­ment also dou­bled as a chance for par­tic­i­pants to get in touch with Maori­tanga.

‘‘Our kau­matua Billy Maea and Poutapu Winikerei taught our kids a haka and a song writ­ten es­pe­cially for it. The whole tour­na­ment was filled with joy, excitement, com­pet­i­tive­ness, and haka. It was sur­real,’’ she said.

They thanked those who helped.

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