Time out for basketball champions

Basketball Mid Canterbury stalwarts (from left) Colleen Lindsay, Pauline Paterson and Helen Williams.

Three Ashburton women who have been in the starting five for Basketball Mid Canterbury for decades are retiring from the team.

Pauline Paterson, Colleen Lindsay and Helen Williams have lived and breathed basketball as players, coaches and administrators. They have had a hand in growing playing numbers and basketball talent in Mid Canterbury for 50 years, and ensuring generations of ballers have a stadium to play in and referees to take charge of games.

The trio have shared many good basketball times over the years … but what goes on tour stays on tour. For them, basketball is the best sport on the planet.

Colleen started playing in 1955 at age 14; she turned out for Tech Old Girls that year and won the competition. Two years later she was in the rep team and in 1965 the Mid Canterbury women won their first South Island title.

When Colleen’s own children came along, they spent plenty of time absorbing the game from the sideline and both went on to play at national rep level (one in Australia).

Over the past 65 years, Colleen has held nearly every job on the committee, including president, and was made a life member in 1983. She has also been a coach and top scorebench official; she is staying on to look after the rep uniforms.

“I was hooked on basketball from the first time I picked up a ball and am still passionate about the game.”

Helen started playing in 1972 at the age of 26 and quickly found a spot in the Mid Canterbury rep team. She was involved with miniball for 44 years coaching and took on the important BBMC role of training new referees. She refereed at top level herself and travelled all over the South Island with her whistle.

She remembers with pride the season two of her young referees – Georgia Robertson and Brad Eaden – refereed national age-group finals.

Helen and husband Paul are moving to Christchurch, where her basketball expertise has already been called upon.

Pauline has filled coaching, managing and admin roles locally, regionally and nationally over the past five decades. She has championed the sport since first turning out for Aranui High School in 1965. She is a life member of Basketball New Zealand, marking 50 years of service, and is former patron of Wheelchair Basketball New Zealand.

Pauline campaigned for women in the sport and while a member of the New Zealand Basketball Federation initiated the introduction of a size six ball for women’s games. It was a hotly-debated topic and after one year of smaller balls for women, the national body went back to size seven for all.

Two years later the international basketball body FIBA introduced size six balls for all women’s competition globally.

“I still get reminded of this, but always respond that maybe I was a bit before my time!”

The three women have achieved far more than in the basketball world than words here can say. Part of their legacy was helping drive the marathon fundraising that went on when BBMC built its own stadium at Oxford Street; when it opened on July 21, 1991 it was debt-free.

And that was a sweet play that has helped keep the sport affordable for thousands of Mid Canterbury kids over the years.