A group of Nelson young people, with various learning disabilities, got the chance to get on court with their heroes last week when the Nelson Giants hosted a coaching clinic for the Fulton Hogan Basketball League.
Finn Delany, Tohi Smith-Milner and Riley Bensemann, along with two players from the Giants development team, spent two hours showing the group tips and tricks to improve their skills on court at Saxton Stadium last week.
The Fulton Hogan Basketball League, which is run by the Inclusive Sport Trust, was formed in 2006 primarily for players with supported learning needs and has 17 teams playing basketball this season.
Inclusive Sport volunteer Heather Walker says a session like last week’s is about connecting the wider community.
“It doesn’t matter what level of basketball you play at, it’s showing that you’re part of a big community. A lot of the players from the league really look up to the Giants.”
Mary Ring’s 15-year-old son Oliver is non-verbal and joined the league three years ago.
She says that when he started he would throw the ball away as soon as someone came near him because he doesn’t like confrontation.
“Now he understands that you can go around people and he can hold onto the ball and keep playing. Watching his development over the past three years from being involved with the league has been amazing, we’ve never looked back.”