An academy designed to give Indigenous kids a crack at playing one of the world’s most popular sports is up and running in inner-city Sydney, and by the way things went during the three-day camp, it’s sure to be around for years to come.

The brainchild of Richie Garard, the Junior Basketball Academy held at Redfern’s National Centre for Indigenous Excellence was hailed a great success, with about 50 kids of all shapes, sizes and colours keen to learn the ins and outs of basketball.

The camp also focused on leadership, nutrition, fitness and teamwork and drilled into the kids the importance of such values and principles.

“The camp went really well and all the kids loved it and got along with everyone, which was awesome to see,” Richie said. “They all received morning tea each day, plus a JBA t-shirt, certificate and medal.  Some received a trophy for things like ‘Most Inspirational’, ‘Most Improved’ and ‘Shooting Champion’.”

Every participant also got a good rundown and report card on where their skills could improve and what goals they could aim for.

“We had 6 coaches available at the camp, so there was plenty of attention for each camper, and it was really great to see how much they improved over the three days in their shooting, passing and dribbling.

“On Day 2, we had Claude Williams (former South Sydney Rabbitoh and Sydney Kings coach) come along and speak to the kids after lunch. He spoke about what it was like being an Aboriginal athlete growing up and the importance of education and playing sports.”

Local businesses pitched in with sponsorship and Richie, who owns and runs his own boot camp business and whose background is in basketball, said he was confident that there would be further opportunities toward the end of the year to run the academy again.

And if the response from the kids was anything to go by, they will be back in growing numbers.

Learning the ropes at NCIE.
Learning the ropes at NCIE.