FROM seeing Steven Adams play on TV to facing him on the court, Sophie Hika (12) got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play with one of her biggest role models.
The budding basketballer said the experience was everything she had hoped for and more.
“It was pretty cool, I expected him to block us quite a bit because he’s so tall.”
The James Hargest College pupil said the highlight of the camp was playing against her role model.
“He inspires me to keep going with basketball. Even when it gets hard and I might want to give up, he keeps me inspired.”
Held at ILT Stadium Southland, the Sports Pathways Trust in conjunction with Southland Basketball Association brought the basketball camp to Southland.
Several hundred children aged 7-17 took part in the programme from Invercargill, Te Anau, Cromwell, Gore, and Queenstown.
Sports Pathways trustee Spencer Webster said the event enabled Adams to connect with the Southland basketball community.
“The guts of it is encouraging kids to get involved in the sport. All the organisations involved have done a really good job of extending the programme out to rural areas.”
With the help of Tu Kaha Foundation and its mobile classroom, Adams also taught the children about the importance of education and life values, he said.
“It’s about supporting the kids and teaching them values like resilience, self-esteem, and life experience, which are all critical to success.”
Southland Basketball general manager Jill Bolger said it was the first year the camp had been run in Southland.
“It’s pretty exciting really, we want to offer it to as many kids as we can and Steven has made sure it’s free for them. It’s about rewarding our basketball family with a treat like this, they’ll never forget that.”
Oklahoma City Thunder vice-president of corporate communications Dan Mahoney said Adams was a “tremendous” representative for New Zealand.
“He comes back to New Zealand as often as he can and it shows how proud he is to be from here.”