This year, for the first time the ‘Dingoes’ – the men’s under 21 Deaf Australian basketball team – was invited to attend the Deaf Basketball World Championships hosted in Washington DC.
Deaf Children Australia was able to offer Ben Robins, Bailey McNicholl, Bradley Walton, Bryce Younger, Connor Reynolds, Jarred van der Merwe, Kit Stephen and Ryan Jaeger Youth Grant funding to attend the competition to represent Australia in the famous green and gold. Tyler Ferres and Jarrod were also part of the team. We were glad to be able to provide sponsorship for the entire team through the Tye Recreation Fund as well.
The team came from all over Australia and met in Melbourne and Sydney for training. For most of the team, it was their first overseas trip, which can be quite daunting. The team had the opportunity to explore Gallaudet University and see the sights of Washington DC including the statue of Abraham Lincoln and the White House. One special opportunity was the chance to watch a NBA game. The team was invited onto the basketball court to meet the players from the Washington Mystics.
The team played against Lithuania, Israel, USA, Ukraine and Greece and despite their valiant efforts, the team did not manage a win. The third game was against the home favourites – USA. Kit explained, “…before the game we had a few goals in mind when facing against the USA. We were to keep USA under 100 points.” The team stuck with their game plan and kept the USA to less than 100 scoring shots with the final score being 28 to 95.
Bailey explained the rules of the games. “In the competition there were certain rules that had to be followed, one of the rules was that no player was allowed to wear their hearing aid or cochlear implant during the match. This was to level out the playing field, and this is where more people started to use sign language, as it was the only way they could communicate during the match. The umpires at the World Championships were also deaf, the umpiring and the rules of the game were no different to a normal game of basketball.”
Bradley said that, “…we came out as winners and it was the most fantastic memory I will keep with me forever. It has taught me about other deaf people all around the world, the game, I learned valuable skills and how I can achieve a dream.”
Jarred wanted to express to “…other hard of hearing children and youngsters and let them know that if they have a passion, a dream, a goal in life – work hard, follow your dream, live your goal and don’t let any disability or impairment stop you from realising your dreams. – I didn’t!”
Deaf Children Australia is proud have been able to support the team in achieving their dream of wearing the green and gold to represent Australia in basketball.