Rarotonga Basketball, which was formed on March 5 last year, is working on the basic specialised fundamentals of basketball to spread the gospel of the game to the young ones in Rarotonga.
Rarotonga Basketball president John Engu said they had a humble start with just one student in their first training session. The following week, they recorded a zero attendance but this did not discourage the founders from realising their goal.
“From there we slowly grew and built up over time to 50-plus as our highest per training attendance early this year. We have about 190 players and volunteers on the books over the past year. We are averaging at about 30 people per basketball training lately,” Engu said.
“Rarotonga Basketball was formed by observing our youth and children playing basketball on Saturday night sports and on Sundays at Papaaroa Community Hall.
“They did not have the basic skills and fundamentals of the game so I put my hand up to help and teach them the required basketball skills to enhance their enjoyment of the game.
“We have strict guidelines in terms of attitude and training conditions and so far we have not had any problems, which is very encouraging.”
Engu said basketball was a perfect sport for the Polynesian people. With ball control, speed, accuracy, teamwork, tempo, smartness, positivity and a happy attitude to mental toughness, he said it was a sport tailormade for Cook Islanders.
Engu said the skills required in the sport brought the best out of the students who are part of their programme.
“We use basketball as a vehicle to build a connection with the children and youth of our community, and to add basic life-skill disciplines for their future lives.
“It’s a humbling feeling to be acknowledged and called ‘coach’ by the youth and children while I am out shopping in town, etc.”
Engu said the ultimate goal of Rarotonga Basketball was to nurture individuals to become better ambassadors of their community and the nation.
“They will go on to do a better and greater work than what we have started through Rarotonga Basketball. They will become the pride and joy of the Cook Islands today and beyond,” he said.
“One of our students may go on to become the first Cook Islander to be drafted into the NBA through our guidance – and most importantly through their own passion, determination and hard work.”
Meanwhile, Engu thanked Pastor E Toleafoa of the SDA Mission for being such a great help to Rarotonga Basketball.
“I want to thank all our helpers and volunteers with this basketball initiative for giving back to our community with your time.
“I also want to thank all of our sponsors for their help with equipment and monetary donations.”