Since the beginning of YMCA in 1844, our movement has forged several paths to help build strong communities and empower youth.

In 1891 at a YMCA gymnasium in Springfield, Massachusetts, the movement reached new heights when Dr James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor, devised a game to occupy restless students at the YMCA Training School during the wintry months.

With little more than an old soccer ball and two peach baskets nailed to each end of the gym, Naismith divided the young men into teams of nine and explained that the aim of the game was to throw the ball into the opposing team’s basket.

“I blew a whistle and the first game of basketball began,” Naismith said in a rare interview many years later.

By 1892, following a write-up about the game in the USA’s national YMCA paper, basketball had spread like wildfire throughout the YMCA network. What started with a group of 18 restless men at a YMCA gym in Massachusetts in 1891 now involves 300 million people worldwide.

Our game. Our community.
Visit a YMCA community facility anywhere in the world on any given day, including right here in Auckland or Hamilton, and you’ll find people of all abilities coming together to share in one simple passion – the love of shooting a few hoops.

Get involved
We’re inviting our local communities throughout Auckland and Hamilton to celebrate 173 years of the YMCA movement, and 125 years since the invention of basketball.

Join us for our Basketball Jam on Sunday 4 June at the YMCA North Shore Recreation Centre, or take a shot in our video competition for your chance to win a $500 voucher from Rebel Sport as we celebrate the YMCA World Challenge.

Looking for adult or kids' basketball activities in Auckland or Hamilton? Find your community at one of our below programmes:


  • 1844 - YMCA formed in London
  • 1855 - formation of the Auckland YMCA
  • 1855 - formation of the YMCA World Alliance
  • 1891 - Dr James Naismith invents basketball at the YMCA Training school in Massachusetts
  • 1908 - first New Zealand basketball games at the Wellington YMCA
  • 1927 - first NZ YMCA National Basketball Championship
  • 1928 - YMCA Auckland's Camp Hunua (later called Camp Adair) opens
  • 1958 - foundation stone laid for new YMCA Auckland building (cnr Pitt St and Greys Ave)
  • 1986 - Shakespear Lodge opened