South's young basketballers get to meet their hero

A Southland girl jumped at the chance to meet her role model Steven Adams yesterday.

Twelve-year-old Sophie Hika described the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball player as "inspiring".

The budding basketballer said the experience was everything she had hoped for.

"It was pretty cool. I expected him to block us quite a bit because he's so tall."

The James Hargest College pupil said the highlight was playing against him.

"He inspires me to keep going with basketball. Even when it gets hard and I might want to give up, he keeps me inspired."

Youngsters and Steven Adams gather at a basketball camp held at ILT Stadium Southland yesterday....
Youngsters and Steven Adams gather at a basketball camp held at ILT Stadium Southland yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Several hundred children aged between 7 and 17 participated in the programme, from Invercargill, Te Anau, Cromwell, Gore, and Queenstown.

Sports Pathways trustee Spencer Webster said the event enabled Adams to connect with the Southland basketball community.

"The guts of it is encouraging kids to get involved in the sport. All the organisations involved have done a really good job of extending the programme out to rural areas."

With the help of Tu Kaha Foundation and its mobile classroom, Adams also taught the children about the importance of education and life values, he said.

"It's about supporting the kids and teaching them values like resilience, self-esteem, and life experience, which are all critical to success."

Southland Basketball general manager Jill Bolger said it was the first year the camp had been run in Southland.

"It's pretty exciting, really. We want to offer it to as many kids as we can and Steven has made sure it's free for them. It's about rewarding our basketball family with a treat like this. They'll never forget that."

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