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Basketball New Zealand's Girls Got Game a hit with the youth

Wellington (New Zealand) - Basketball New Zealand's (BBNZ) grassroots program, "Girls Got Game" is revolutionizing the way basketball is being introduced to young girls in New Zealand.

The program was launched in May of this year, was designed by women and focused on keeping the youth active, having fun and participating with friends. The program runs on a six-week introductory course which promotes a non-competitive environment by female coaches.

Capital Basketball Community Development Officer Scott Richardson shared that the Girls Got Game program gave the participants an ideal platform for girls to learn basketball.

"When we started our program we put a big emphasis on making sure the girls felt safe and comfortable in the course," said Richardson. "What we’ve noticed in the past is that girls can be prone to crawling back into their shells when they make mistakes when grouped with boys, whereas now, they’re a lot more care-free and keen to give things a go. The girls taking part are flourishing and it’s awesome to see.”

Photo from Angela Ruske

Several regional basketball associations across New Zealand have recorded a dramatic increase in participants since the launch of the program in their respective provinces.

Basketball Hawke's Bay General Manager Chris McIvor excitedly shared the growing interest in basketball of young girls in their region.

"Since the launch of Girls Got Game we’ve seen an encouraging increase in the number of girls playing basketball. The high levels of participation meant we were able to set-up a girls-only mini ball league, which by the looks of it everyone has loved," McIvor said.

"Even little things like the Girls Got Game basketballs have been well received. What we’ve also seen is an increase in female coaches, which also bodes well for the progression of the women’s game going forward," he added.

Photo from Angela Ruske

The Otago Basketball Association reported a 45% increase in the number of girls participating in basketball-related events.

“There is a real vibe around the community at present relating to female basketball, highlighted by the community engagement of the AM I FIT Otago Gold Rush," said Otago Basketball General Manager Justin Ludlow.

“We’ve had a lot of success at both the National and age-group level in our catchment and Girls Got Game will only build on our strong foundations,” he added.

Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Iain Potter is delighted with the reception of the regional basketball associations to the Girls Got Game program and believes it will be a key program in their mission to develop the game for Women's basketball in the country.

“Girls Got Game is a great program within our playing pathway to help introduce basketball to girls in a fun and welcoming way. It's fantastic to see it being embraced by regions throughout New Zealand and we know more regions will start using the program soon. We hope it will continue to help lift participation numbers in girls basketball. We need to do more to attract girls to the game and this is a great way for them to start.”- Iain Potter

 The Girls Got Game is based on BBNZ's Kiwi Hoops program, which tallied 19,190 kids participating in 2018.