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Williamson on President's Award and basketball's growth in New Zealand
WELLINGTON (New Zealand) - FIBA Oceania Board Member Greg Williamson was awarded the President's Award during the World Congress held in Beijing last month.
The President’s award is awarded to an individual in a leading position of their National Federation from each region for their positive impact on basketball and their commitment and contribution to the region and is selected by former FIBA President, Horacio Muratore.
The affable Kiwi native talked to FIBA.basketball about the award and the future of basketball in New Zealand and the Oceania region.
This award was to recognize the work, commitment and positive impact on basketball during the past 5 years, what does it mean to you and Basketball New Zealand?
It was a great honor for Basketball New Zealand to receive this award and to be acknowledged amongst the many excellent national federations in our Zone.
Who are the individuals you want to recognize and credit with the tremendous growth of basketball in your country?
The award is a testament to the amazing team of people at Basketball New Zealand. Led by CEO Iain Potter, this group has made the most of the incredible opportunities offered by FIBA Asia competitions, and the new men’s competition structure.
I’d also like to thank my colleagues on the Board of FIBA Oceania, who are very supportive of one another and have a unified view of trying to improve the sport in our zone. The FIBA Oceania office, with whom Basketball New Zealand has a very constructive and productive relationship, also deserve acknowledgment.
In the last cycle, what were the things Basketball New Zealand has accomplished that made you proud are proud?
Participating in FIBA Asia competitions for the first time during the last cycle has been a significant challenge for New Zealand, in terms of logistics, costs and the high quality of competition. We are proud of our performance of our teams in these competitions and delighted at the opportunities it has given our age group and elite men’s and women’s teams.
Being involved in the new format for the Men’s FIBA World Cup was also an exciting challenge. It was an incredible opportunity for us to expose our elite players to home crowds and helped us improve our capability for managing these kinds of events to FIBA standards.
Basketball has experienced incredible growth during the last cycle, with high school competition alone growing by over 25% over that period. In 2020 it will become the most popular sport amongst high school athletes, which reflects the growth of the game globally and the initiatives we have put in place locally to encourage participation.
What are the things you think can improve upon this cycle?
We have learned a lot about competing in FIBA Asia competitions over the last cycle, and we will use these insights to be better prepared and compete hard. Finding ways to reduce the costs of our athletes to participate in these events is also a key goal.
New Zealand has been well represented in 3x3 competition in the last cycle, but there is room for us to grow this aspect of the sport, and compete effectively on the FIBA stage.
What do you want New Zealand to accomplish in the next four years?
Our vision for the game in New Zealand is ‘a hoop in the heart of every neighborhood’, which means working to ensure basketball has a positive impact on the lives of many New Zealanders, helping them be happy, healthy and enjoy the fun with their friends.
Growing our female game will also be a priority. Not just making the most of opportunities for female competition through FIBA, but ensuring our governance, management and competition structures are better structured to encourage girls and women to be involved.
Message to the basketball fans of New Zealand and the Oceania Zone
We are very excited about the future of our sport, from young children entering the game through to our elite heroes.
Basketball has the potential to achieve huge positive impacts across New Zealand and our Zone. National Federations like Papua New Guinea and Fiji have run some amazing community-based programs in the last cycle, which offer lessons to all of us how our sport can make a difference in people’s lives.