Hundreds of children descended on Churchill Leisure Centre on Thursday morning to hear from Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze as part of the NBL Latrobe Valley Blitz.
Gaze, along with other top NBL coach and players, helped launch the community clinics designed to give students access to some of the greatest minds in basketball.
The Sydney Kings coach said the 60-minute sessions with students were a fantastic opportunity for the NBL and the local community alike.
“This is an exciting time for our sport. How exciting is it when you come to a venue like this and see the opportunity and diversity that sport can provide?” Gaze said.
“It’s a fantastic thing to see children in wheelchairs, boys and girls and children from all different backgrounds here participating and sharing in this great game.”
NBL chief executive Jeremy Loeliger was also on hand at Churchill to help launch the clinics and echoed his excitement.
“This is a great opportunity for NBL and all of our clubs to engage with communities here in the Latrobe Valley, and we’re very excited to be here,” Loeliger said.
“We’ve already had 360 children participate in the clinics and it’s an extremely exciting time.”
Loeliger also announced the launch of a joint initiative with Australian retailer Kmart, which will deliver a new national community program called GAMETIME.
“NBL GAMETIME will engage with over 1600 schools reaching 100,000 in its first year of operation for kids aged 5-10 in schools across Australia and New Zealand,” Loeliger said.
“NBL players and coaches will play a key roll in presenting the program throughout every one of those 1600 schools.”
Each of the 800 children participating in GAMETIME as part of the NBL Blitz community clinics was gifted their very own basketball to take home.
“This is a fantastic contribution towards helping those kids either start or continue their basketball journeys,” Loeliger said.
“Premised on the philosophies of diversity, inclusion, health and wellbeing, GAMETIME will strengthen grassroots basketball while reinforcing connections with NBL and growing the game for generations to come.”