Sports stars excited to give back

Lining up for the Sport Otago All-Star Showdown basketball game are (from left) Hannah Mackay...
Lining up for the Sport Otago All-Star Showdown basketball game are (from left) Hannah Mackay-Wright, Atawhai Hotene, Mitchell Ruske, Brent Matehaere, James Nation, Samara Gallaher, Callum Procter, Jodi Brown, Jo Morrison, Joe Wheeler, Darcy Knox, Harry Taylor, Patrick Ward, Julia Gorinski and Patrina "P" Roche. Absent are Rose Morton, Zoe Richards, Annabelle Schneideman and Georgia and Kate Heffernan. Photo: Firebrand
Rose Morton is used to dribbling the ball with her feet, not her hands.

Georgia Heffernan is used to slotting goals without a backboard.

While their basketball experience might be somewhat limited to their school days, the Southern United captain and Southern Steel shooter are up for the challenge at Sport Otago’s All-Star Showdown tomorrow.

The All-Star Showdown, which is raising money for Sporting Chance, is packed with past and present Otago sporting stars — basketball, rugby, hockey, netball, football — representing team blue and team yellow, coached by Dunedin broadcasters Callum Proctor and Patrina "P" Roche.

Morton, playing for team blue, will face her Southern United team-mate and vice-captain Hannah Mackay-Wright, in team yellow.

While the pair are great mates and have played together for years, Morton did not rule out a few friendly jabs on the court.

"There’ll definitely be a few words, I think, but it’ll be good," Morton said.

"I’m glad she’s on the other team so I can mark her, because I don’t want to come up against some six foot giant that I have to try and defend."

Heffernan, another team blue member, expected some friendly banter between her and her twin sister, Kate, who is injured and will support team yellow.

It will be one of the only times the Steel sisters will be on opposite teams, and while they will be competitive against each other, Heffernan backed her team to win.

Despite being slightly nervous, Heffernan was excited to take part, rub shoulders with athletes from other codes, and give back to an "amazing cause" in Sporting Chance.

"I just think it’s something really different and it’s really exciting," Heffernan said.

"I’ve had so many people talk to me about it just around the community — lots of people are so excited for it which is really cool.

"It’s going to be great for the cause and I’m really excited to be a part of it."

Among those playing are former Silver Ferns Jodi Brown and Jo Morrison, former Highlander Joey Wheeler and former Nuggets players Dean Ruske and Brent Matehaere, who now coaches the team.

Morton said the group were a bunch of "characters" and the event would be fun for players and spectators.

"I’m just looking forward to the whole experience — probably less about the ... basketball itself," Morton said.

Sporting Chance is a Sport Otago fund aiming to provide financial assistance to disadvantaged children and youth, and help them participate in sport and recreation.

The fund, which started in 2004, has helped over 4000 recipients and Sport Otago had granted over $50,000 to children and youth in the past year.

Elite sports stars were fortunate to have resources to be involved in sport and helping children throughout Otago was a no-brainer, Morton said.

"I think it’s kind of a given for any sports player really.

"We’re all so lucky that we have been so privileged in being able to play in these teams, and getting all the opportunities we’ve been given.

"So it’s great to give back to the community and give back to those that may not have been so lucky."

The All-Star Showdown starts at 4pm tomorrow at the Edgar Centre.

All Star Showdown

The teams

Team Blue: Georgia Heffernan, Jo Morrison, Dean Ruske, Zoe Richards, Darcy Knox, Joey Wheeler, Rose Morton, Julia Gorinski, Patrick Ward, Harry Taylor.

Team Yellow: Kate Heffernan, Jodi Brown, Brent Matehaere, Samara Gallaher, Michael Ruske, James Nation, Hannah Mackay-Wright, Atawhai Hotene, Annabelle Schneideman, Jeremiah Asi