Community: Q and A: Nathan Mauger
LPC CEO Roger Gray and Lyttelton Recreation Centre manager Nathan Mauger with the new and old hoops.

The rec centre is looking great with a pair of new basketball hoops and backboards. Can you tell us how they came about?

Yes, they are a valuable piece of equipment which is attracting more people into the facility, which is one of our key objectives. I had heard there was a lot of keen basketballers in the community, so I took a look at the existing backboards and hoops and realised they were there from when I was in my youth about 30 years ago and were well and truly past their last legs. I asked some of the young basketballers we had down here one night about them and they said, ‘they’re a bit of an eyesore – we need an upgrade’.

So, I approached LPC without knowing the level of interest in community initiatives they had. They were really keen and it’s one of their main goals to get onboard and sponsor community initiatives, so the backboards and hoops was a bit of a no-brainer for them, which worked out great.

Great, so what’s the result been for you?

I was being pestered by the locals over a period of time about, ‘when are they going up?’ They went up a few months ago now, thanks to Lyttelton Engineering. Within about 24 hours our local rangatahi were in here and playing for hours on end. Now we regularly have youth come in here a lot more to play and it’s also attracted a significant number of new faces into the facility.

We’ve developed a basketball programme to compliment the new hoops. The main initiative there is facilitating a social basketball programme on Thursdays for ages 16 and up. The first night we probably had about 20-22 guys here playing. It’s all self-managed, no refs, just an honesty system. We ask for a koha on the day and we just make up teams and play. It’s really relaxed, but you get a good run for a couple of hours.

LPC CEO Roger Gray trying out the facilities at Lyttelton Rec Centre.

And what kind of feedback have you been getting on the new hoops?

So far, it’s that they’re loving it, the ease of access is a huge thing for them. Without these hoops we don’t have much else around Lyttelton in the ways of basketball. I’ve also connected with Pioneer Basketball Club and they’ve come in and created some opportunities for our younger tamariki and rangatahi to provide opportunities for their development. They’ve come over and have run a programme for 13-16 year-olds and will come back in December to run a 3v3 tournament with referees, called the All Star tournament.

Because basketball is so popular around the country it’s working in our favour, because all of the Christchurch courts are booked out, especially after work. So, we’re thinking people will now be able to come out and try the facilities here. Obviously, we want a space for our local residents to come in and be active, but the ultimate objective is getting people healthy through exercise and increasing the patronage in general. It’s so much easier with our pay2play booking system too, where people can just book a time and space online. That’s the way of the future certainly for us. It’s all about removing barriers to make it easier for people to come down to the facility to play sports such as squash, indoor football or basketball at the rec centre.

And what about yourself – how did you find yourself in sport?

I think every kid’s sporting opportunities typically come through school one way or another. My brother and I, we both went and played at the Lyttelton Rugby Club when we were juniors. It was a tight knit community, and I was fortunate to come from a very sporting family where rugby was always a big part of the family.

We have other family members who were also big role models for Aaron and me. Not only that, but we had an Aunty who took us out running all the time with the dog and we used to see a lot of each other. So, I used to run a lot too, but it was all influenced by my family, you see. I think for me, I’ve always been competitive and loved sport, whether it was school athletics and cross country or playing for the rugby club, all of it.

Has that competitive nature perhaps fallen away a bit as you’ve grown older?

At the time I probably didn’t see the health benefits of sport, I just enjoyed it for the competitive nature. Now, 30 years down the track, I have a greater appreciation for the health benefits – and I still go to the gym every morning before work – it puts me in a really good mental space for the day ahead.

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