Many of the finest Under 15 and Under 17 age-group basketball players in New Zealand attended a National Selection Camp in Auckland last weekend.
In addition to bringing together over a hundred young athletes, the camp also enabled some of the best up and coming coaches in the country to gather alongside the players at the Pulman Arena in Papakura.
“It’s an efficient way to deliver coach development to our national team coaches and managers. These camps allow coaches increased networking opportunities between our senior national coaches and junior national coaches,” said Basketball New Zealand High Performance Director Leonard King.
“The Under 15 coaching teams are in place for the upcoming Oceania Championships in Papua New Guinea, but the Under 17 coaches are yet to be announced. We invited three coaches to work with the Under 17 Girls and three to work with the Under 17 Boys at this camp, so we could watch and observe them ahead of the formal announcement of the Under 17 coaching staff appointments.
“The pathway for coaches in this country is still something of a fluid situation. My message to coaches is that there isn’t a linear progression, there is not one direct pathway that is going to take you from coaching a club or school team right through to coaching the Breakers, Tall Blacks or Tall Ferns.
“There are a lot of twists and turns along the way, there are a lot of great learning opportunities out there and, equally important, there are a lot of knowledgeable people to learn from.
“What I have done over the course of the year, since taking up my role, is attend all of the national championships and the Schick Secondary Schools National Championships, and identified some young coaches who have the right attributes, the right characteristics, the right demeanor, and given the right mentor and environment, they could be developed into a very good coach. Some of those coaches have been invited to this camp.
Two of those coaches were Jayden Smith and Shay Haira. Smith coached the Wellington Men’s’ team that finished third at the Aon Under 19 National Championships in June this year.
“I started coaching a couple of years out of high school as an assistant coach at Under 13 level and I have worked my way through the age groups up to Under 19’s this year.
“It’s my first time at a BBNZ camp. It’s been heaps of fun I’ve learnt plenty of new things. It’s a great opportunity to learn from other coaches and work with some of the top young players in New Zealand.
“One of the reasons I accepted the opportunity to come to the camp was to get some further development from what is around me in Wellington. It will help me get better and take my coaching ability to the next level.
“I think the new player and coach pathway has a lot more transparency and less confusion. It won’t happen overnight and it’s going to have some growing pains as people adjust to the new system and all get on the same page. I think it shows progressiveness,” says Coach Smith.
Shay Haira coached the Taranaki team to the 2018 Aon Under 17 Girls National title for the first time in the Association’s history.
“This has been my third time at a Basketball New Zealand Camp, but my first in a more senior coaching role.
“The groundwork that Basketball New Zealand is laying allows us to have more structure leading into the systems that we want to run which helps the players understand the direction in which they are going.
“In the coming years the players will arrive in camp knowing what they are doing and what is expected of them from the beginning. It is a bit tougher for us right now, but the coaches and the players will be much better prepared in the future. It’s nice to have a starting block.
“Working with Trent Adam at camp has been enjoyable because we have coached against each other for about six years. That said he has always been supportive and understanding. If I need assistance he has always been helpful even though we have been coaching rival schools,” says Coach Haira.
The three National Camps are an opportunity for coaches as well as players to understand the progressive teaching layers that under-pin the new development system, from Under 13 right through to the Under 19 age-group.
The next Camp is in February with the coaches having plenty to reflect on over the next four months.