Fulton Hogan basketballers are all smiles before starting the coaching clinic with Nelson Giants. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Fulton Hogan basketballers get Giant support

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A group of Nelson youths, with various learning disabilities, got the chance to get on court with their heroes yesterday 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 yesterday.

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 today 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.”

Heather says its great for the players to have a space where the focus isn’t on the disability it’s on sport.

“The focus is on enjoying sport and belonging to sport and all the positives that come with that.”

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.”

The Mike Pero Nelson Giants will be playing their last home game of the season on Saturday 21 July against the Wellington Saints.

Tickets can be purchased at http://www.ticketdirect.co.nz/event/season/1596