Queenslander Jonathon (Jonno) Steele has been coaching junior basketball in Brisbane for eight years, from Under 10's to Under 16's. In June 2016 Jonno left Australian shores to work with Basketball Fiji as part of the Australian Government's Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. FIBA Oceania, an Australian partner organisation with the AVID program, is supporting Jonno during his assignment.
"I've always been passionate about basketball and I'm also passionate about working with people who have a disability. I've coached for a long time and have volunteered in special schools, teaching kids about sport," says Jonno, who has taken on the role of Disability Sports Development Officer. "This year I wanted a change and this AVID assignment is a chance for me to incorporate my two loves, by helping to make basketball inclusive for all."
Hoops for Health is a basketball development program, already active in schools and able-bodied communities in Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Solomon Islands. The program, funded by the Australian Government through the Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP), aims to increase participation in sports as a way of building healthier communities. Including women, girls and people with disability is a particular focus of the program.
Now Jonno is working with Basketball Fiji to expand Hoops for Health into special schools and organisations for people with disability based around Suva.
"It's great to support the staff at Basketball Fiji and contribute both my knowledge of basketball and my experience of working with people with a disability," Jonno said. "It's also a great opportunity for me to learn more about Fiji and enhance my life skills in a different culture."
During his twelve-month AVID assignment, Jonno and the Basketball Fiji team will work on an action plan encouraging people with a disability to become involved in the sport. There are also plans of introducing a wheelchair basketball program in the near future.
The organisation has a strong partnership with the Fiji Disability Association and FIBA Oceania is providing valuable information and equipment to support Jonno in his role.
The AVID program is an Australian Government initiative. For more information visit www.dfat.gov.au/australianvolunteers.