As the 2008 ‘National Deadly Camp’ finished at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra last week, there were smiles all round.
The camp forms an important part of the Finding Deadly Basketballers program – a talent identification and development program for Indigenous athletes run by Basketball Australia (BA) and supported by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC).
The Finding Deadly Basketballers program forms a part of the Australian Sports Commission’s National Talent Identification and Development Program (NTID).
35 athletes as well as ten coaches from around Australia attended the camp and according to camp head coach Tim Mallon, who is also an assistant coach of the Australian U19 men’s team (Emus), it shouldn’t be too long until we see the next Patrick Mills or Danny Morseau hitting the hardwood in the green and gold.
“There were a lot of very impressive young athletes at the camp,” Mallon said.
“The athletes we have identified possess amazing talents and ability and now we can develop their skills in an elite training environment such as this.
“The camp was a great success thanks to the support of the Australian Sports Commission and the AIS.”
Like Mills and Morseau before them, these talented indigenous athletes harbor the dream of one day playing for the Gems and Emus, our U19 junior national teams, and the Australia Post Boomers and Australian Defence Force Opals.
“Joshua Thomas and Dekeba Batte Aston showed some exceptional talent and Matthew Axton had a great ethic towards practice,” Mallon said.
“From the younger male athletes Elijah Edwards and Jasper Garray showed real promise for the future.
“Lorenzo and Ahmad Loban from Thursday Island certainly benefited from the camp and also displayed a fantastic attitude towards practice.
“Caitlin Fuller was tremendous and Shanieka Ross and Mercedes Hudson-Nona were outstanding.”
The camp attendees took part in an intense training schedule that included education sessions in recovery, nutrition, drugs in sport and a wealth of physical testing.
Only a handful of indigenous athletes have progressed through existing basketball development pathways, including Olympians Michael Ah Matt (1964) and Danny Morseau (1980, 1984), 5-time Paralympian Kevin Coombes and more recently Rohanee Cox (Australian Defence Force Opals), Mills and international referee Scott Butler.
The Finding Deadly Basketballers program aims to address that shortage and ramp up the regularity of Indigenous athletes at the elite level.
Identification sessions have already been held in schools and communities in North Queensland, northern NSW, metropolitan NSW and Western Australia. Athletes have also been identified by coaches in Victoria, QLD South, Northern Territory, Southern NSW and Tasmania.