KIT Day with the Southland Sharks
Fun with Sharks
“Oh, you are going to be playing basketball today” I mentioned Wednesday morning to my youngest son. My little guy is hearing impaired (two hearing aids), so he takes part in KIT Day (‘Keep In Touch’ Day, where kids with hearing aids and cochlear implants from the region get together for a day of fun activities during school hours). He seemed quite excited about the prospect until I said he’ll be playing with members of the ‘Southland Sharks’. I think he didn’t hear me say ‘members’ because he stated with a grin “Sharks don’t play basketball Mom” and walked away. During the drive to Ascot School where the Resource Teachers of Deaf Children are based, I explained who the Southland Sharks were. That brightened him up quite considerably as I’m sure he thought he’d be dealing with big fish with teeth.
Seeing the children had a full morning of other activities first I ventured home to get some work done and met them at the Velodrome after lunch. The ‘Southland Sharks’ normally play in Southland Stadium, but seeing that caved in after a heavy snowfall they had their court moved to the inside of the Velodrome. ‘Southland Sharks’ began as a Conference Basketball League side in the early 1990’s and in 2002 were promoted to the National Basketball League (NBL) after finishing 2nd in the Conference League. In 2008 Southland Basketball Association re-established itself and in 2009 received a 3 year license to enter in New Zealand’s premier Basketball competition. The ‘Southland Sharks’ (or more correctly ‘Zero Fees Southland Sharks’) are the regions 3rd professional sporting team along with ‘Southland Stags Rugby Union’ team and the ‘Southland Steel Netball’ team. Quite an achievement for our region I thought. In 2010 the ‘Southland Sharks’ finished 6th on the points table, and so far in the 2011 season they have played 12 games, won 5 and lost 7, currently sitting in 5th position.
The ‘Southland Sharks’ have former NZNBL player Richard Dickel as head coach, and his brother Mark Dickel (a former ‘Tall Blacks’ point guard player) now plays for the Sharks. It was these two who greeted the children and teachers at the Velodrome. The children got a free reign with the balls to practice their shooting with Mark helping before being put through their paces by the Head Coach Richard. A lot of giggling and laughing was heard amidst the thumping of about 15 basketballs (not to mention the yahooing from the bikers who were obviously practicing inside the Velodrome), but that all added to the atmosphere which was great. The children were split into two groups, girls and boys and took part in a shooting competition, with Richard making the goal scorers run around the court with their hands in the air cheering! Yes, the scorers had definitely won the title!!
For more info check out the ‘Southland Sharks’ website: http://sharksbasketball.co.nz/