Meet the New Caledonians

WITH the FIBA Pacific Youth Basketball Championships just around the corner the international contingent is in the final throes of preparation as they look to put a dent in the armour of Australia and New Zealand when they hit the courts in Churchill.

The New Caledonia junior women’s national team has employed an extremely professional approach in the build up to this tournament.

Starting earlier in the year, some of the team travelled to Coffs Harbour, Australia for a week-long training camp with their Mont Dore club.

Spurred on by this visit, coach Charles HaHo embarked on an extensive training regime for the side, which Basketball Victoria chief executive Wayne Bird believed would make a statement on an international scale.

“This is a unique opportunity for them and particularly to be able to play against the stronger and more developed programs out of New Zealand and Australia,” Bird said.

“It certainly helps raise the profile and the value of the sport in their country where they have a team that has come through a process to be selected to represent them in a regional sense; it may be for some of these teams at this stage of development their ultimate experience.”

Beginning in May, the squad travelled to the furthest northern village in their country, Koumac, for a four-day camp, followed by a five-day camp in Mont Dore.

In September the squad headed north to Poindimie for a five-day camp and in October, returned to Mont Dore for another five-day camp.

In addition to squad training, the players have undertaken two-hour sessions in their own areas, three times per week.

Bird, who was also the chair of the FIBA youth organisation committee, said the level of professionalism shown by the New Caledonians was a huge boost for the tournament.

“From our point of view it’s just ideal,” he said.

“The fact that they are committing the time, effort and energies to bringing their team together and developing them so that when they do come here they’re going to be as competitive as they possibly can; that’s what we want because rest assured the Australia and New Zealand teams play to win.

“They come here to be as competitive and to learn as much as they can out of this week-long experience (as possible).”

New Caledonia’s first fixture will be on the first day of competition, Monday, 26 November, against Samoa in the women’s draw and Fiji in the men’s.