Pacific Youth Leaders Camp: An emotion charged end

GOLD COAST - The final day of the Pacific Youth Leaders Camp was an emotional time for the athletes and coaches.

It was a busy day for the campers, comprising of on-court and leadership sessions, two games against Basketball Queensland representatives, and a closing ceremony.

After working through some in-game scenarios, Carrie Graf had the girls go through the shooting activity she had set at the beginning of the camp. As Graf continued to adjust shooting techniques, she shared just as much happiness as the campers when they reached their shooting goals as the buzzer sounded.

Afterwards, Graf demonstrated to the campers the importance feeding the ball into the post. Continuing the theme of the camp, Fiji’s Vilisi Tavui, who stands at 6’5, was a standout among the group. Current Opals squad member Kelsey Griffin, was required to suit up to guard Tavui during a scrimmage.

Two other girls who impressed were Jan Travilla and Jess McDowell-White, as both athletes understood how to push the ball and then get it into the post.

Griffin also taught the athletes some ball handling drills, focusing on improving their hand-eye coordination. Each camper practiced dribbling while simultaneously tossing and catching a trigger ball into the air.

Despite the strong session, the girls couldn’t finish off the camp with a win. Basketball Queensland were too strong for the PYL side, as they ran away with a 42-27 win. A 16-2 final period for Basketball Queensland proved to be the difference. Tavui finished with 11 points.

The focus for the boy’s final session was defense.

Phil Smyth and Peter Crawford explained to the group ways to read the defense and the different ways that the opposition can be a threat to score. Other drills the athletes worked through focused on defensive movements, footwork, and the nuances of help-defense. The two standouts from the defensive oriented session were Timee Tekonnang and Josua Qalova.

The hard work paid off later in the day, as the PYL boys defeated Basketball Queensland 45-30. With defense drilled into their heads, the PYL squad didn’t allow their opponents to score more than 11 points in any quarter. Aron Farmer was the leading scorer with 10 points.

The final leadership session of the camp was bitter sweet, as it was the last time the entire group was together.

Mthoko Madonda of Reach Sports Management took a step back this session, partnering up the athletes and allowing them to provide feedback to each other. This activity allowed the athletes to truly comprehend the impact of the camp on them. Many campers were surprised at the extent of growth observed thanks to the intensive week.

The closing ceremony was held at the Southport Sharks event centre, and started with a performance the athletes had prepared. It involved welcoming the guests in every language present at the camp.

After the formalities, the athletes were revealed with the partner they had been secretly assigned with at the beginning of the camp. Each athlete had to write messages of encouragement for their partner throughout the camp.

In what was an emotional ending, the athletes were awarded certificates for their completion of the PYL camp.

Everyone who spoke during the ceremony could not speak highly enough of the camp’s success, an each athlete now heads home to help make a positive difference, in both life and basketball.

* This event has been made possible through Australian Government funding.

About FIBA

FIBA ( – the world governing body for basketball – is an independent association formed by 215 National Basketball Federations throughout the world. It is recognised as the sole competent authority in basketball by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

For further information about FIBA, visit or follow FIBA on,,