In the realm of sports, accessibility and inclusivity are not just buzzwords but essential elements that drive participation and foster a sense of community. For women, these aspects take on an even greater significance. The Y North Shore, a beacon of community spirit in Auckland, is a brilliant example of getting these things right with its women's league basketball, exemplifying how local initiatives can make a substantial impact.

The Y North Shore's women's basketball league has been running for over thirty years. But it is more than just a sporting event; it's a movement towards inclusivity. Open to women aged 17 to 60 and beyond, the league welcomes players of all skill levels, from novices to seasoned veterans. The league’s structure is designed to accommodate players ranging from beginners to advanced, ensuring that “everyone, regardless of their experience level, has a place to play and grow”. By providing a platform where women can engage in healthy competition, learn new skills, and connect with peers, The Y fosters an environment where every participant feels valued and supported. This approach has helped to break down barriers and encourage more women to participate in sports, contributing to the overall health and well-being of the community.

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Shayla, a valued staff member at The Y North Shore, introduced spectator nights, a masterstroke in fostering growth and camaraderie. Their spectator nights allow women who are interested in playing basketball, but don’t have a team, to come and watch some of the games, mingle with others, and join the games to try it out. Those who love it can then join and form teams that can play in the league. It's where hesitant enthusiasts become passionate players, and strangers turn into teammates. This initiative has already inspired a new team, embodying the league’s ethos of growth and inclusion. By facilitating team formations and providing individual support, The Y North Shore ensures that every woman looking to participate finds her place.

Staff report how excited and happy the players are when they can join a team and compete, “with friendships forming” amongst the team members. The whole league is very welcoming, with a vibrant mix of experienced players, to players who haven’t been on a court since high school.

The success of the league can be attributed to its community-focused ethos, which emphasises the joy of playing and the importance of building relationships through sport. By providing a platform for women to engage in basketball within a supportive and social atmosphere, The Y North Shore has created a thriving league that continues to attract new players and retain existing ones.

Visibility plays a crucial role in inspiring participation. When women see other women actively involved in sports, it breaks down misconceptions and builds confidence. The Y North Shore contributes to this visibility by promoting their league and celebrating the achievements of its participants, thereby encouraging more women to join and stay active in sports.

The Y North Shore's women's basketball league serves as a model for how sports organisations can work towards greater inclusivity. Their commitment to accessibility, community, and visibility not only enhances the sporting experience for women but also enriches the fabric of the community. As we look towards a future where every woman has the opportunity to participate in sports, it is initiatives like these that will pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable sporting landscape.

The Y North Shore, where everyone’s sporting dream can find a home court.

Joining the League is a slam dunk. Find out more here.