The Kiwi woman who changed basketball

For more than four decades, Barbara Wheadon has helped shape basketball – at home and abroad – in her many roles, and has been recognized with the sport’s highest honor.

Few people have had an impact on basketball in New Zealand and around the world like Barbara Wheadon.

A leader, player, volunteer and change maker on the global stage, Wheadon has been involved at all levels of the game for over 40 years, working diligently behind the scenes to help change the landscape to be more fair and more competitive.

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What started as a board member of her local basketball association so the voices of the team she played for could be heard, ended with Wheadon serving FIBA – the international sports organization – for more than 10 years.

She spearheaded changes in structures set in stone for 75 years, when others told her she couldn’t. “’You’ll never get the NBA players to agree, Barbara’… Guess what? We did it,” she said.

And now the former president of New Zealand and Oceania is back in basketball.

Wheadon’s remarkable contribution to the game has now been recognized with his induction into the Basketball New Zealand Hall of Fame.

“When they wrote to me and told me that was what they were going to do, I thought it was really a little complicated,” she says.

“But then you’re like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s good.’ Nice to all the people around me who I’ve pestered to death about how we should get things done, and “Can we have this money and this money?” “

Wheadon already has a New Zealand Order of Merit for service to basketball, but Hall of Fame recognition is very special, she says, because it comes from her peers.

It was the icing on the cake of a successful career. The North Shore Events Center building, now known as the Eventfinda Center and the North Harbor basketball headquarters, is one of them. It is quite another to be a founding trustee at the Millennium Institute of Sport, now known as AUT Millennium, and seeing it come to life.

“The achievement of these two facilities for the sports community, first on the North Shore, but then on a national scale, must be part of the highlights,” said Wheadon.

“The other important thing was the work we did in the FIBA ​​Central Committee to change the competition calendar.” She served on the international board of directors for 12 years.

The changes in the competition calendar and qualifying process for FIBA ​​- which oversees basketball around the world – were significant as it was the same setup throughout their 75-year history .

Previously, the member traveled through five areas around the world, Wheadon says. “We moved it to a ‘federation of federations’ membership, so it was directly from each country to the international organization,” says Wheadon.

“People here used to say, ‘How are we at the Olympics?’, ‘How are we at the world championships?’ Because back then we just had to beat Australia to get anywhere. Well, it’s not a high performance route, coming in second is not a route.

It didn’t happen overnight either. It was a 12 year campaign to ensure that all countries had the opportunity to improve and be successful. “We were able to set up opportunities at all levels of our sport in New Zealand to compete on the world stage,” said Wheadon. “So what we were able to do was really, really important. “

For the future of sport in New Zealand, Wheadon sees the need to focus on developing training and refereeing routes, and supporting smaller local basketball centers and partnering with programs. school.

Because players now have the option of entering the US college system, she says, and some coaches have held positions overseas.

The progression of basketball has been “phenomenal”.

“In terms of the actual administration of the game, how things are done, why things are done, I mean it’s night and day,” says Wheadon.

“But at the same time, there are still the core values, the core things that you have to do, but there are still loads that could be done – and must be done.”

Wheadon has held a number of leadership and governance positions during his career. She has served as the Interim President, Treasurer and CEO of Harbor Basketball. She was a member of the BBNZ Board of Directors from 1998 to 2008 and was President for the last six years of her tenure.

In 2002, Wheadon was appointed to the FIBA ​​Oceania Board of Directors and became President from 2006 to 2010. She was the Oceania representative on the FIBA ​​Board of Directors during this period.

She received a Basketball New Zealand Life Membership Award in 2006, and NZOM.

“In terms of the actual administration of the game, how things are done, why things are done, I mean it’s night and day,” says Wheadon.

“But at the same time, there are still the core values, the core things that you have to do, but there are still lots of things that could be done – and must be done.”

Wheadon has held a number of leadership and governance positions during his career. She has served as the Interim President, Treasurer and CEO of Harbor Basketball. She was a member of the BBNZ Board of Directors from 1998 to 2008 and was President for the last six years of her tenure.

In 2002, Wheadon was appointed to the FIBA ​​Oceania Board of Directors and became President from 2006 to 2010. She was the Oceania representative on the FIBA ​​Board of Directors during this period.

She received a Basketball New Zealand Life Membership Award in 2006, and NZOM.

Wheadon became a librarian because there weren’t many career options for women. “Back then you went to the career counseling nights they had at school and all the girls were geared towards being teachers or nurses – which didn’t seem right to me. exciting at all. No one else was going to be a librarian, so I thought, “Well, maybe I would like to do that.”

These days, the career options are endless. Wheadon was encouraged at Basketball New Zealand’s recent AGM, but the variety of opportunities in the sport: from directors of basketball associations to employees and volunteers in the sport. Especially for women.

Barbara Wheadon, front row, center, with other winners at the NZ Basketball Te Papa awards ceremony.

Basketball New Zealand

Barbara Wheadon, front row, center, with other winners at the NZ Basketball Te Papa awards ceremony.

“Instead of just being ‘Barbara’, half of the venue is now women and they’re all paid in this sport,” she says.

His three daughters are testimony to the widening of career options for women. One has an Honors BA in Mathematics, another has an Honors BA in Chemistry and the last has a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Management with a Masters in Wine in progress. “I can’t imagine what the next ones are going to do,” Wheadon says of his five grandchildren.

Although she admits that a career in journalism would have been great, Wheadon found herself involved in the business she and Graeme bought between raising their children and volunteering in basketball communities.

It was at a local center in Auckland where Wheadon returned to the field, having met a group of moms playing in basketball and netball competitions.

“I was also a new mom and they were playing in a basketball program at the YMCA on a Monday morning,” says Wheadon. “There was a little nursery there so I was able to leave my oldest daughter, Elizabeth, there and play.”

From there, Wheadon joined the North Harbor committee because his team didn’t like the way the scoring system was applied.

“If you want to change the system, you have to be at the board table,” says Wheadon. “And like I tell people, ‘I got into the basketball committee and I didn’t get out until I got on the international committee.”

After retiring from FIBA ​​in 2014, Wheadon decided it was time to stop contributing at the governance level. “I made a conscious effort to say ‘enough is enough’. I thought I was part of what I wanted to do around the legacy, ”she says.

But it has not completely disappeared. His contribution to the sport has come full circle, with Wheadon returning to the local level.

Small associations in the Waikato area can now call on Wheadon’s experience for budget advice, overseeing finances and volunteering. “I help them with some things because I know the game. I know how to take resources a little further,” she laughs.

Wheadon feels like she achieved what she wanted in sports… “And more.”

“There was the legacy of the facilities, but being able to make a difference at the international board table… They were like ‘It’s not possible, Barbara’. And I would say ‘Why?’ She remembers.

“‘Oh, but we’ll have to talk to all these people’, ‘You’ll never make NBA players agree, Barbara’.” And of course she did.

They used the same philosophy she used locally to get to know your community. “In order to get it right, we had to work with the whole world to change the competitive structure that had existed for 75 years. And it was very dominated by the Europeans, ”says Wheadon.

“So we had to get to know each other around the board table. We had to share all the challenges we had, why we couldn’t do this, and why we didn’t have the money.

Wheadon says it’s the greatest legacy. “At home, we have made some changes in our little old country. It was really difficult, ”she says. “But to achieve changes in an international board of directors, it’s remarkable. Like I said at the start, if you’re not there, you can’t change things.


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