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Basketball programme brings community together

Thursday 25 November 2021 | Written by Alana Musselle | Published in Basketball, Sports


Basketball programme brings community together
The under 16 basketball players at the Papaaroa Hall for their Sunday training. 21112404

The people behind Rarotonga Community Development Basketball are ramping up efforts to achieve their goal of bringing more of the community together through the game. By Alana Musselle.

The programme which first started in 2017 allowed for people of any age, but targeted at youth, to participate in weekly basketball training in a bid to promote the sport in the country.

With a consistent stream of mainly 16-17-year-olds attending the weekly training every Sunday from 5:30 -7pm, the organisation is now focusing their training for the 2022 Beach Games hosted by Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee in January next year.

To prepare for this they have changed their game structure to three a-side to suit the format that will be played at the Beach Games.

According to John Engu, president of Rarotonga Community Development Basketball, their mission is to bring young people and members of the community together and to create connections with those who play while at the same time allowing them to be more active.

Many young people, as well as parents, are usually attracted to more mainstream sports such as rugby and netball, says Engu, adding with basketball being a less developed sport on the island, they are still determined to follow through with their strategic plan which is “to help and connect with young people through basketball”.

Basketball had a thriving first half of the year with the seven-week Avaiki Development Basketball Tournament which took place earlier this year from August to September.

With the community basketball programme, they are hoping to continue that momentum for the rest of the year while at the same time preparing the players for the upcoming Beach Games.

The number of players in the community programme currently varies from week to week with an average of 15 young people showing up for training each week.

“Just that sentence alone ‘we have basketball training today’ is a start in getting our young people involved and active within the sport,” Engu said.

Currently, there are a few disciplinary issues as well as pride on the court with “selfish players”, but Engu said that despite the disciplinary measures taken to ease out those bumps, “players are continuing to return to practices and put in their all which is a good sign”.

Engu said the main reason that they continue to hold the community programme “is that they hope to bring both young kids and their families forward and to create connections with many families in the community through the love of basketball”.

“We are here and we just do what we can with what we’ve got. We’re doing our best and are very passionate about basketball with our young people.”