Pacific Youth Leaders Camp: Day one and two recap

The 2016 Pacific Youth Leaders Camp is off to a successful start, with some of the most talented basketballers in the region being athletically tested in the first two days.

The athletes arrived on the Gold Coast on Friday, with Vilisi Tavui getting into the accommodation lodge as early as 2am. However, there would be no time for Tavui, or any of the athletes, to rest up and shake off the jet lag.

Carrie Graf, Glen Saville and Phil Smyth, three of the coaches at the camp, surprised the athletes at their lodge. The coaches introduced themselves, set some expectations for the week, spoke of their experience in the basketball world and explained what they were looking forward to at the camp.

While the talk from the coaches was a surprise, the camp was officially launched at the Welcoming Ceremony. After FIBA’s Catherine Grawich welcomed the campers to Australia, FIBA Oceania Director, David Crocker, spoke about the athletes being selected to represent their country and national federations.

Crocker explained how the athletes had been chosen to the camp not just because of their basketball and athletic skills, but also for their leadership credentials and role model potential. With great coaches and sensational facilities at their disposal, Crocker encouraged the athletes to suck up as much information as possible from the camp.

The campers were also introduced to the two Head of Delegations FIBA has brought in for the week. Former Olympic silver medalist, Annie La Fleur, will be the head of the females, while Fiji national team member, Esala Banuva, will represent the men.

To their excitement, the campers were also presented with a Pacific Youth Leaders Athlete Pack. The pack included a camp t-shirt, Basketball Australia training gear, recovery tools, drink bottles and Molten basketballs.

The day after the formalities, the athletes got straight into their performance testing.

Ran by Griffith University’s Phil Bellinger and his team, the athletes were put through elite performance testing mechanisms, at Carrara Indoor Stadium. The tests included twenty metre sprints, an agility test, vertical leap tests, wing span measurements and the yoyo test.

While all of the athletes displayed their innate levels of athleticism, two stood out from the pack. Normalisa Dobunaba, a Papau New Guinea native, tested the best of the girls, while Australian Verle William Jr was the standout male competitor.

The athletes were also taught about the importance and necessity of stretching and recovery. Members of the Papua New Guinea High Performance Team taught the athletes how to effectively use the tools FIBA has equipped them with, including foam rollers and trigger balls. The campers also endured some body weight exercises.

At lunch, the Director of the Papua New Guinea High Performance Team spoke to the campers about the incredible facilities at their disposal for the next week. He stressed to the athletes to treasure this opportunity and learn as much as you can, but don’t get caught up and marvel at the facilities – use them to become elite athletes.

After lunch, the campers went into their first leadership session, ran by Reach Sport Management’s Mthoko Madonda. He used this opening session to set the tone of the week, and set some agreements for the camp. Madonda asked the campers to discover their inner voices, challenge one another to get out of their comfort zones, be open, trust and encourage each other, be mindful, believe in yourself, have humility and be responsible.

The campers return to the court on day three to commence basketball activities.