GOLD COAST – After two days of welcoming parties, performance testing and leadership sessions, the athletes finally played some basketball on day three of the Pacific Youth Leaders Camp.
Held at the new indoor basketball stadium in Coomera, the campers had their first opportunity to showcase their skills and abilities to the coaches.
In a nice touch, the athletes were decked out in the green and gold of the provided Basketball Australia training gear. This helped them represent Australia and their own individual nations and federations, a symbolisation of the inclusive nature of the camp.
Former WNBL coach, Carrie Graf, led the female athletes on day three.
The focus of the first female session was shooting. As Graf had the athletes shoot from both the three-point and free-throw lines, she took stock of each of their individual shooting techniques, and corrected any issues. She even had an assistant recording each of the athletes’ shots, so they could watch it back themselves and point out areas for improvement.
Shooting was the only basketball skill the girls worked on during day three, as Graf then talked to them about common barriers facing female athletes. Graf explained how girls naturally shy away from contact and why it is the wrong thing to do. She encouraged the campers to be physical and use their bodies to their advantage on the court.
Additionally, Graf told the girls that they each have a special attribute that makes them a great basketballer. Whether that is height, powerful legs or wide shoulders, Graf urged the women to be proud of that and utilise it.
Phil Smyth led the boy’s workout on day three, which was used as a grading and planning session.
Smyth had the athletes running through a lay-up line, while he observed their techniques and movement towards the basket. He also had them undergo a three-man weave and dribbling obstacle courses, as he worked out a plan to match their skill levels for the week ahead.
A number of Gold Coast sports physiotherapists made themselves available at the accommodation lodge, if the athletes needed to work through any sore muscles.
At day three’s leadership session, Mthoko Madonda from Reach Sports Management, gauged the feeling of the group after their first prolonged session on the court. While many campers were excited to be finally playing basketball, they were also exhausted from the opening workout.
The focus of the session was leadership journeys. The campers broke up into four groups to present and discuss a set of question they had answered earlier – what are your roles in life, what are you passionate about, what are your leadership strengths, an area you’d like to work on and what is your life motto.
As the energy level of the group increased, more and more campers were open about their stories. Te Manava of the Cook Islands explained how it was amazing to learn that the athletes had lots in common, despite the differing backgrounds.
After the athletes shared their experiences, they were able to hear from former Olympians Annie La Fleur and Glen Saville. The duo answered the same questions the campers had earlier, and also opened the floor to the athletes to talk to them. La Fleur and Saville were able to demonstrate how the challenges they faced on the basketball court have helped them in all facets of life.