Ray proud of mother Mata Cameron for winning prestigious basketball award

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Mata Cameron, matriarch of the Cameron whānau and māmā to Tall Blacks coach Pero Cameron, got quite a surprise at the  New Zealand Basketball Awards, which recognise individuals who have had a significant impact on the sport and their community.

Cameron took home the Sir Lance Cross Award for exceptional service to basketball.

One of her sons, Ray, was in attendance at the awards and says the atmosphere was awesome.

“It was awesome talking about basketball: where it’s heading, what is in front of them, the new women’s basketball league. There was also a discussion over new ways to promote and expand basketball within our country, especially after Covid-19.

“There was a lot of discussion but also honouring of the past, making sure they get acknowledged along the way.”

Ray says his mum got the Sir Lance Cross Award not only for her contributions to basketball but also for being “the Kauri tree of the north”.

Diverting youth

“She was one of many who have helped people give back and help grow it within communities.”

Plenty of regional and national tournaments are also coming up for youth to participate in.

“All these kids who are considered as the representatives are all elite. They’re not just walk-off-the-street kids, they put in the effort. They’ve upskilled and put their hand up to represent the area. The North has done very well at that.”

Asked if Māori and Pasifika wanting to participate in the sport can’t do so because of finances, Ray says finances are just “for surviving”.

“My job is working with youth on the ground who are mostly at risk. They choose to be stimulated by something that they can’t replace. School and sport are supposed to be there. If it’s not there, they try to replace it with something else.

“We see that with our rangatahi doing the ram raids. Our job as community leaders is to try to provide something of interest and a pathway back to, hopefully, their communities and to a bigger and better vision.”