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Win for local basketball

Charlotte Harding. PHOTO/SUE TEODORO

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The determination and vision of a Martinborough woman, in collaboration with others, has seen the community benefit from the development of a free, age-inclusive sports facility.

Martinborough Business Association secretary Charlotte Harding, who was also involved in other community projects, noticed the basketball court was regularly used but not well set up.

“There always seemed to be a bunch of kids, including older kids, hanging out at the basketball court enjoying it,” she said.

“It made me realise that there are not a lot of options out there for the older kids in the community.”

She said the play area at the Waihinga Centre, which opened in 2018, was developed with smaller children in mind.

“The park is great up to a certain point, but is there a place for everybody?”

Two new basketball hoops had been donated by Heath Kershaw, but the court was unmarked and undeveloped.

“We still hadn’t got a painted basketball court.”

Harding contacted Wellington-based Capital Basketball, who promote the sport as an option for children. The group assessed the facility and identified the lack of a marked-up court as a major challenge.

Harding also mentioned the problem to Bryce Neems at South Wairarapa District Council.

“Not too long afterwards, I got a photo.”

The court had been fully painted.

“It was amazing. What a gem,” she said, “The council had worked its magic.”

With the court finished in October 2020, things happened fast. Very soon, a complete ongoing training programme was in place.

‘Taster’ sessions during the summer holidays were run by Capital Basketball. These were followed up with an eight-week term-time programme.

The formal training was run in two groups with from 10 to 12 children in each group – one for five to eight-year-olds and another for eight to 12-year-olds. The sessions began in February and would run through to Easter.

“It’s been really well-received and the parents love it,” Harding said.

She said it gave children an opportunity to learn a range of new skills with a different sport.

“It’s a lot of skill work. They’re learning to be part of a team, to work together, to follow instructions, hand-eye co-ordination with repetitive patterns and developing motor skills.”

Harding said children of all ages were benefiting and it would hopefully be an ongoing programme, expanded to adults.

In the pipeline was a coaching clinic for parents and development of adult interest in the sport, which was already evident.

“Any parents that are interested in developing their skills will get an opportunity.

“At night I walk my dogs and there are quite a lot of adults on the court.”

She said play was at present weather-dependent since the only court was outdoors.

The Martinborough basketball court had two hoops and is outside the Waihinga Centre, adjacent to the playground. It was free to use.

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