6 May 2022

Using basketball to reach at risk youth

From Afternoons, 1:20 pm on 6 May 2022
Tessa Morrison

Tessa Morrison Photo: Basketball New Zealand

When New Zealand's first-ever women's pro basketball competition kicks off next month, Tessa Morrison will be on the court.

The Mainland Pouākai player, who has a degree in psychology, is also Basketball New Zealand's community lead for women and girls in the South Island.

It's a super exciting time for women's basketball in New Zealand, she tells Jesse Mulligan.

Eventually, Jesse would love to play overseas in the offseason of the NZ franchise and become a Tall Fern.

But you don't need a professional pathway to benefit from basketball, she says. The sport can be a good way to get active and connect with others.

'Getting a hoop in the heart of every community' is the Basketball New Zealand motto, exemplified by the initiatives Hoops in Schools and Hoops in Parks, Tessa Morrison says.

"Basketball is a really universal game. If you see a ball and a hoop everybody wants to give it a go, which is the really cool thing about [it].

"I've had such a good experience with basketball and it's helped me through some of the hardest times in my life so being able to influence young women and girls [with the idea] that basketball is a skill and a tool that can help you [be more resilient]."

New Zealand players interested in going pro will have the option of getting paid to play at home would change things.

"When I was growing up, we'd go to the [Canterbury] Rams games and it would be the coolest night of the week… it would make my month. But being able to see [other] women playing [basketball] live and on Sky Sports… would be ideal.

"Basketball is a game for everyone, doesn't matter if you're tall, short… and getting rid of the 'women's basketball' label would be as good as it gets."

The inaugural Tauihi Women’s Basketball League begins on 29 June.