Making it pro on the hardwood is a goal for most Canberra Gunners and Capitals Academy players. The South East Australian Basketball League they play in is a semi-professional gateway to Australia’s elite leagues.
But for Gunners guard Reece Kaye, and Caps Academy wing, Chloe Tugliach, the ‘dream job’ of being paid to play has come a little different than expected.
As Basketball ACT’s new Development Officers they run around with 18-month olds, holding hula hoops to shoot at, play interactive games with newcomers to the sport, and teach the basics at school visits.
The job has mixed their early education studies with their love for hoops, as they teach basketball skills and life lessons to the next generation.
“Reece and Chloe are both awesome,” says Basketball ACT CEO, Michael Haynes. “They are great basketballers in their own right and both have a genuine passion for teaching kids.”
“Reece came on board first so we specifically recruited a female for the second position so that we had strong role models for both boys and girls.”
As part of their role, the Development Officers run Aussie Hoops, an Australia-wide program for kids aged 4-10, a brand new ‘8 and Unders’ program, which bridges the gap from Aussie Hoops to club competitions, and run clinics at local schools. While providing opportunities for newcomers to basketball, they also facilitate ‘Mums Who Ball’ – a Tuesday morning drop-in game with morning tea and coffee as an open door back to the game for local mums.
“The role of the Development Officers is to make basketball fun – to develop a love of being physically active and having a basketball in your hands,” says Haynes. “For some it may be the start of a lifelong involvement in the sport and for the special few it may become a career. Whatever the journey ultimately is within basketball it all starts because they had fun and enjoyed the sport.”
“I’ve played basketball here for 20 years and I wanted to give back to the junior basketball community,” says Kaye, who led Tuggeranong Vikings to back-to-back Premier 1 titles in 2015-16. “I feel like coaching helps my play on the court, seeing the game from different perspectives.”
“I love getting out to schools and giving kids something to aspire to,” he continues. “It kind of brings me back to the main reason I play, which is because it’s so freeing being out there on the court. Especially seeing kids who come from a tough home life step on the court and have an outlet for whatever else is going on in their life is pretty powerful.”
For Tugliach, the opportunity came through Capitals Academy coach Debbie Cook’s recommendation. New to the Canberra basketball community, the Wests wing has snatched up the opportunity and run with it.
Tugliach says the youngest hoopers are her favourites.
“They can be the most difficult at times, so it’s really rewarding when they feel like they’ve achieved something. Even if it’s just learning to dribble with their left hand or making a shot into a hoola hoop that’s really groovy.”
Kids from the Aussie Hoops program have already had a chance to show off their skills to a crowd at the University of Canberra Capitals games on opening weekend.
Basketball ACT are always looking for schools to attend, so If your school could benefit from a Reece and Chloe visit contact BACT on 6253 3066.
Written by Lachlan Ross / Photos by Rosevear Photography