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NPA's first female student to be selected for state representation in basketball championship

[by Anuja Nadkarni]

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Bethany Nona. Image: supplied

Bamaga’s new sporting sensation is on her way to achieving her dream of playing for Australia.

Peninsula School Sport invited the Northern Peninsula Area State College (NPASC) student to represent the region at the 16 to 18-year-old Girls’ State Basketball Championships held in Toowoomba, Queensland in May.

Bethany Nona, a 17-year-old year-12 student who began playing basketball as a school sport just two years ago, was the first-ever female student from the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA) to be selected for state representation.

She received the prestigious invitation after impressing selectors during the Under 18s basketball trials in Cairns earlier this year.

Bethany’s basketball coach Danielle Hewes, who once played in the NBL1 (National Basketball League) representing Sydney and is also one of Bethany’s school teachers, took six NPASC students to the trials but believed Bethany was the clear stand-out.

Bethany says she has been incredibly humbled by the opportunity to compete and represent her community on such a prominent stage and hopes to achieve even greater things as a proud Indigenous woman.

“I’m excited because I want to show my family how much I enjoy playing and I would love to represent my culture,” Bethany says.

“I’d love to be the first young Indigenous girl to play basketball professionally. It’s an honour to show who I am and my true identity through basketball.”

Bethany’s passion inspired Bamaga Enterprises Limited (BEL) to award her with a $2,500 sponsorship that allowed both her and her mother, Therese Tugai, to travel to the Darling Downs region for the competition.

The funds contributed to return flights from Bamaga to Brisbane, bus transfers to Toowoomba, twin share accommodation for seven days and Bethany's uniforms.

BEL is a not-for-profit, community-owned company that reinvests profits from the local businesses it operates to fund educational, sporting, health and cultural sponsorships for Indigenous people in the community.

BEL Chairperson, Robert Poipoi, says providing support for Bethany via the organisation’s Socio Support Policy was a privilege.

“Bethany is an inspiration to her community as well as her school peers, and I hope this is only the beginning of her basketball journey,” Mr Poipoi says.

 

“Her mother’s application on Bethany’s behalf made it very clear how supportive her family and school are of Bethany’s dreams.

“The team at Bamaga Enterprises Limited is proud to have helped a rising star continue to flourish.”

Ms Tugai, a mother to four teenage girls, says she is extremely grateful to BEL for its support after struggling to fund the life-changing experience on her own.

“I was very emotional,” Ms Tugai says.

 

“There were happy tears because I was so excited for Bethany, but I did feel a heavy weight on my shoulders to make the trip happen and at one stage, fundraising got a bit rough.

“But then, when the sponsorship came, it felt like a nice, bright light at the end of the tunnel.”

Ms Tugai says while Bethany felt very nervous during the tournament where she played two basketball games each day between May 19 and May 22, it only set her daughter up for further success.

“Bethany got to come out of her shell,” Ms Tugai explains. “It was challenging but she stood out to her teammates, and they depended on her the more they played together. I am so proud of her.”

Ms Hewes says her star student performed wonderfully at the Championships. She believes Bethany is on track to future basketball stardom.

“Bethany’s leadership skills and high dedication, as well as her need to keep learning, are what sets her apart,” Ms Hewes says.

 

“As a teacher and coach, I could see her potential right away.”

Once she completes her final year of school at the end of this year, Ms Nona is planning to study at a Brisbane university.

 

Ms Hewes is determined to connect the promising youngster with Basketball Queensland officials who may help Ms Nona join a representative competition.

 

 

 

 

 

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