Phoenix Patea – Why Sport Matters

In the past year, Phoenix Patea has gone from the dizzying heights of playing basketball in front of LeBron James to being deprived of any sporting opportunity because of Coronavirus.

Post lockdown the sports prefect at Wellington East Girls’ College is working tirelessly to ensure sport remains at the forefront of her schools’ identity.

“A sports prefect is the voice of the students for sporting achievements. We promote opportunities that exist and give back to the school by playing ourselves,” Patea said.

“Because of Covid we’ve had to push everything back. Numbers have decreased because girls are scared they might get the virus or families’ financial stability has worsened. We don’t force anyone to do anything they are uncomfortable with, but getting people connected and moving again is really important.”

A talented netball, handball and rugby player, Phoneix is best known for her swift movements and exploits in basketball.

In August 2019 the Wellington representative point guard was selected captain in a Kenny McFadden basketball academy selection to travel to Las Vegas to compete in an NBA sponsored competition involving eight teams and five full matches.

Patea’s team won an under-17 competitive division, in addition to two other tourneys. One win was witnessed by ‘King James.’

“I was star-struck by LeBron. He stayed for about half the game. He was there to watch his son play. There was lots of hype and heaps of media,” Patea reflected.

“That whole trip was awesome. The chemistry of the girls was unbelievable. I miss them a lot.”

What kind of chemistry can we expect for Wellington East Girls in 2020? A first-up win against Hutt Valley High School followed by another win on Friday night over Sacred Heart suggests promising times lie ahead.

“We’ve got quite a young team, but we’ve worked hard on our fitness. The competition has become really competitive. It’s going to be interesting,” Patea observed.

A palpable change in recent basketball has been the proliferation of three-point shooting and dual roles on the court.

“I think it’s good because basketball is about shooting the ball. It puts less pressure on individuals. Dual roles allow everybody to stretch.”

She enjoyed the Michael Jordan Netflix series, ‘The Last Dance’ during the lockdown.

“I think it’s a great documentary for underdogs. It allows you to see the nitty-gritty of basketball. It’s inspiring and shows you what sport can lead to.”

Phoenix is the niece of Wainuiomata league legend Heston Patea.


-Story Courtesy of College Sport Media