On February 10th, there was a particular kind of excitement in the air around the Massey Leisure Centre managed by YMCA. It was the day that the NZ Breakers – yes, those Breakers, our biggest basketball superstars – were coming to visit. And everyone was understandably pumped up about it!

Kids from six nearby schools had a chance to come down to their local centre to see these sporting heroes in action, in an event arranged by Centre Manager Steven Bartholomew. The Breakers have an established programme in place directed at schools – the BreakerBall Community Programme – so it was the perfect way to drum up some high-octane enthusiasm for children’s fitness in an especially memorable way.

Around 200 pupils attended the event during their school day, accompanied by about 50 teachers, parents and other support staff. And once the buses unloaded, it was all go – everyone buzzing, staff, parents and students alike. “The kids couldn’t believe that the team would come out to their local YMCA!” shares Steven.

With so many kids in attendance, school groups stayed together – and they got the chance to play against the Breakers! The players led the groups through some skills exercises so that they could really get on top of their game – and with nine Breakers at the event, they had a whole lot of combined talent to put the kids through their paces.

While it was a great chance for basketball fans to hone some new skills, there was more to it than that. “It’s really about role modelling,” Steven says. Kids get a chance to meet their sporting heroes, and see that anyone can make it – “with some hard work and a positive attitude!”

After the action-packed time on court, the Massey kids had the chance to get autographs from the players and even get some photos in – making sure that there’s no way that they can forget such a fun-filled day!

Steven was really keen on the opportunity, because he saw it as a great chance to combine like-minded programmes. “The Breakers’ management are really committed to their community basketball programme, and I think that their values and the YMCA are well aligned – we all want our kids to be active and strong, and take part in recreational activities to build healthier communities today and in the future.”

It was also really encouraging to see such well-known sports personalities take the time to get involved at a grass-roots level, according to Steven. Knowing how busy the players’ schedules are means that there’s an especially great appreciation for the fact that they happily take the time to participate in and support initiatives that see local communities really see the best of effort and sportsmanship.

Massey Leisure Centre managed by YMCA is, in many ways, the perfect centre for basketball-oriented community programmes with the growth of their own basketball efforts. “Our basketball programme for the juniors’ league has gone from strength to strength. At the peak of the second half of the season, we had over 70 teams playing weekly.”

Ultimately the day was a huge success, with enthusiasm for the sport, the team, and fitness in general getting a real boost for pupils across all six schools. It’s wonderful to see such high achieving sportspeople doing their bit for our communities.