A Mornington Peninsula basketball program is changing the game regarding inclusion in junior sports.
Ausome Hoops, a basketball program specifically designed for young people with autism, sees participants led through a 45-minute session of basketball fundamentals.
One senior coach and another support coach are assigned to a group of no more than five players, with all coaches being aware of each child’s essential information, such as likes and dislikes, sensory needs, and management strategies. Each session also includes a sensory space where kids can get away from the noise of the basketball stadium and play with sensory items.
The program was founded in 2019 by then-15-year-old Phoebe McShane, who came up with the idea after countless attempts to get her younger brother, who is on the autism spectrum, to play junior sports.
“He tried every single sport on the Peninsula and just could not find the right fit for him,” she said
“I found there’s nothing really like this around, there’s no autism spectrum-specific basketball program offered in Australia.
“So I pitched it to Mornington Basketball … and, luckily, they were supportive of it, and they were really excited to see what could happen with it.”
Phoebe and the Ausome Hoops team ran their first school holiday camp at Mornington Basketball in July 2019. Since then, the program has seen rapid expansion, with Sunday sessions and school holiday camps now taking place at basketball associations across Melbourne.
“I sent a pitch email to the general managers of basketball associations across Victoria,” Phoebe said.
“Now, as of Term 2 2023, we work with Bulleen, Diamond Valley, Melbourne and Nunawading Basketball Associations.”
Phoebe and the team are now looking to the future with clear visions for further expansion across Australia.
“I’d love to be at most basketball associations across Victoria, and I’d love to tap into the intestate clubs.” she said
“But my ultimate dream is to have (Ausome Hoops) running in America, in conjunction with NBA teams and work with them.”
Many sports, including basketball, already offer highly successful All Abilities programs, however most do not cater to the specific needs of children on the autism spectrum. Phoebe also hopes other sports will follow the successful Ausome Hoops model.
“Hearing from parents of kids in our program, their kids struggled a lot in all-abilities (programs),” she said
“So, I think having an autism-specific program is very niche, but it works.”