YIBA: The Young Indigenous Community for the Basketball Elite | Maddie Allen
Maddie Allen 6/11/2017.
With the Indigenous population in South East Queensland soon to be the largest urban Indigenous population, there is a growing need for support for young Indigenous people. While many elite sporting programs scout Indigenous youth, the common model is one which plucks us from our culture, pops us in a boarding school with no cultural support and uses our struggles as a reason why Indigenous kids shouldn’t be picked on teams.
That’s where the Young Indigenous Basketball Academy does things differently. Run by Olympian and NBL championship winning head coach Brian Kerle, the Young Indigenous Basketball Academy (YIBA) aims to foster a community for talented kids as well as provide top tier basketball training. After working in the Indigenous Unit of the Sports and Recreation Department for over six years, Kerley (as he is affectionately known in the basketball world) gained a first-hand understanding for what Indigenous communities were really asking for. More than that, as he began to form connections with some of the Indigenous sporting legends, he realised that he was in the position to facilitate some of these desires.
Kerley began to throw some ideas around years before YIBA came to fruition. Through his work with the government and his affable nature, he formed friendships with Aunties across the region, seeking advice about the program. Through his travels to rural and urban communities across Queensland and the Torres Strait, he began to form an idea for an holistic basketball academy – one that combined elite sport with employment and education opportunities, but most importantly, one that highlighted rather than suppressed the cultural needs and wants of a growing Indigenous population.
YIBA isn’t just about identifying Indigenous talent. YIBA is about fostering Indigenous culture through basketball. It is about empowering our Indigenous youth with the tools they need to succeed without sacrificing their connections to their community. YIBA is about connecting people – connecting like-minded Indigenous talent, connecting the young with the old, connecting our future with people in positions to help them achieve their goals.
Full disclosure, I work with Brian Kerle and with YIBA. As an Indigenous woman, I was hesitant at first to see what this white man had in store for Indigenous camps. But the thing about Brian and about YIBA is that he knows when to hand over the reigns. His basketball expertise is second to none, but it is the connections within communities and his ability to bring people together that really make YIBA a special place to be.
To find about more about YIBA, get involved by visiting their website at www.briankerlebasketball.com/yiba or give them a call at 0488 690 877.
About the Author
Maddie Allen is a semi-professional basketball player and elite basketball coach. Allen is an Awabakal woman living on Yugambeh land. With a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology, Allen is currently undertaking a research project into Indigenous elite sportswomen and the gap between what they need, and what is currently provided. Allen has been a part of the Brian Kerle Basketball Academy team since March 2017.