Basketball stars at Whitireia Community Polytechnic

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Calling all wanna be basketball stars, coaches and sports coordinators! Whitireia Community Polytechnic is offering you the chance to start turning your dreams into reality with help from American basketball star Kenny McFadden.

He's running a new basketball programme as part of the one-year Certificate in Sport and Coaching course at Whitireia Community Polytechnic. This course leads on to the more advanced Diploma in Sport and Coaching.

Motivation, discipline and plenty of cross training are keys to success.

"It's not enough to just be tall and skinny! Basketball is a very fast paced game, much faster than it used to be. That calls for more athleticism, achieved through cross training and conditioning using weights, running, swimming, agility work and so on. Training has to be five days a week for up to four hours a day," says Kenny. And he certainly practices what he preaches.

Kenny McFadden immigrated to New Zealand in 1982 to play and coach for the Wellington Saints. Since retiring as a player in 1996, he has focused on boosting the development of basketball in the Wellington region. He sees his role at Whitireia Community Polytechnic as a natural extension of this work.

"I'm amazed at the talent coming out of New Zealand, this little spot at the bottom of the Earth with the population of an average sized American city. Our players can break through to play at the highest level in the United States. And look at the international success of the Tall Blacks. Through programmes such as this (the Certificate of Sport and Coaching) we can develop elite athletes and top coaches who are good role models," says Kenny.

His training programme is based on the American approach used in secondary schools and universities. Basketball training sessions will be held at the Porirua Recreation Centre and at Whitireia Community Polytechnic's own outdoor basketball court. Sports science and motivational techniques are also included in the course.

Students will also get the chance to compete against America's best high school basketball players at a tournament to be held in April in Baltimore, Maryland. "This should give our students an idea of what it really takes to get to the top, and to give them more motivation," says Kenny.