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Koorie Basketball Academy continues to empower Indigenous youth through sport

The Kiilalaana Foundation and Koorie Academy Basketball hosted a successful event in Mildura on Sunday, offering skills and drills clinics for children of all abilities.

A total of 85 children participated, including 56 Aboriginal boys and 44 Aboriginal girls.

Kiilalaana Foundation founder and a FIL Emerging Leader 2020 - 2021, Shantelle Thompson joined forces with Koorie Basketball Academy founder and Gunai Kunai man, Rick Baldwin to ensure a memorable day for all attendees.

Rick Baldwin and Shantelle Thompson with participants at the clinic.

Thompson, a proud Barkindji and Ngyampaa woman who holds three Jiu-Jitsu world champion titles and is a mother of five, was also recently honoured with the Order of Australia Medal for her contributions to the Indigenous community of Victoria.

The event featured two basketball clinics tailored for different age groups: one for children aged 6-10 and another for those aged 11-17.

Baldwin emphasised the importance of sport for all young children, highlighting it as the most rewarding aspect of his 40-year basketball career.

Despite his extensive experience as an NBL1 championship player and elite-level coach, working with his Aboriginal community stands out as the most fulfilling experience for him.

"All young kids deserve to play sports. It's the most rewarding thing I have done in my basketball career, which is over 40 years now," Baldwin said.

"Being an Ex NBL1 championship player and coached at an elite level for many years, but working with my aboriginal community at a grassroots level is the most rewarding thing I have experienced."

Participants during the cultural artefact session held by Mr Baldwin. (Image: Supplied)

Additionally, Baldwin held cultural artefact workshops, providing enriching experiences for all participants.

He noted the growth of basketball among Indigenous children in Victoria, saying it has surpassed the popularity of Australian rules football.

He highlighted the importance of access and challenge of transportation, as many families inquired about support which was was unfortunately unable to be offered, resulting in some children missing out on the opportunity to participate.

"Basketball in Victoria has grown and now has more kids playing basketball than footy," Mr Baldwin said.

"An Elder came up to me saying she has never seen the kids so quiet and respectful. Listening and learning, we teach life skills."

Read the full article here.

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