In September last year FIBA invited eight prominent females from basketball federations throughout the pacific to participate in an exciting Women’s Empowerment Programme on the Gold Coast.

The objectives of this workshop were to identify, support and train key women currently involved in basketball across the Pacific region. The programme is focused on helping attendees enhance their leadership, governance, and public speaking skills. was able to sit down with two participants of this workshop, Leah Seru (Fiji) and Lysa Wini (Solomon Islands), to see what affect this workshop has had on their lives.

Firstly, we caught up with Leah who started as a Hoops for Health (H4H) volunteer coach for Basketball Fiji (BF) but since the workshop has transitioned into a permanent member of BF’s administration staff.

Tell us about your experience at FIBA’s women’s empowerment workshop?

I had an amazing experience at the FIBA’s Women Empowerment workshop. I will admit that when we were introducing ourselves I was intimidated after hearing everyone’s positions. Over the course of the workshop, I got to know these wonderful women and realized that despite our different positions we were all faced with the same challenges. All of us participants formed a bond that helped make this an uplifting and unforgettable experience. This workshop not only helped me advance my knowledge but it also helped me gain more confidence in myself.

What were the lessons you took after from this workshop?

One of the lessons that I will always remember is that no matter what people think or say about you, proving them wrong is the best thing you can ever do. I also learnt that it’s ok to ask for help and how a little self confidence goes a long way. Women tend to undersell their talents which can affect how others see them; I didn’t realize that I wasn’t the only female who did this until the workshop.

Did this workshop help you get to where you are now? How?

Absolutely, the knowledge and skills I gained during this workshop combined with the relationships I formed with women from all over the pacific has helped me get to where I am now. If I hadn’t been a part of this programme, then I wouldn’t have had the confidence to take on this new role. Being a part of the BF administration staff comes with a lot of added responsibilities compared to my previous role as a H4H volunteer coach. The workshop helped prepare me for this challenge and I am very thankful.
Why do you want to work in basketball?

It’s simple, basketball is what I love. Basketball Fiji is currently doing remarkable work for basketball in Fiji and being part of something that positively impacts basketball and the youth in Fiji makes the hardships we face worth it. For example, the Hoops for Health is such a great initiative that benefits so many kids through basketball. Seeing them enjoy and become more interested in the game that I love is what fuels my passion to work with Basketball Fiji and the Hoops for Health program.

What advice would you give to young women in Fiji?

My advice would be to work hard at what you want to achieve, you can do it. It won’t always be easy so don’t be scared to ask for help, but never give up.

What do you hope to do next?

Right now, I hope to help increase female participation in basketball either as a player, administrator or coach. Because women have the power to change the world.

Next, we were able to catch up with Lysa from the Solomon Islands Basketball Federation (SIBF). Lysa had many years’ experience as a national team player and captain before this programme but since this workshop, she has earned a position on the SIBF board as Secretary.

Tell us about your experience at FIBA’s women’s empowerment workshop?

The FIBA women’s empowerment was an opportunity that came at just the right moment, it came at a time when I needed support in my sporting and professional career. I was in a transition period of being an athlete to becoming an administrator. I was engaging with the Solomon Islands Athletes Commission, becoming more involved with the DFenders development program and trying to focus on my career path as well. All of these responsibilities were becoming overwhelming; I was unsure if all of these responsibilities will support my development as a person and the way I support my country.

The empowerment workshop was the intervention I needed. The 2 weeks helped me broaden and shape my perspective of myself as a leader, allowed me to break personal barriers, particularly in new social situations, and be part of a multicultural group with a common passion – basketball.

It was the opportunity of a lifetime to meet and learn from great women such as Jenny Shipley (first Women in history to hold the position of New Zealand Prime Minister) and Carrie Graf (former WNBA and Australian Opals Coach). The way the sessions were designed enable to me recognise my personality and realise my potential. Knowing yourself is key in sharing and empowering others to reach a common vision and dream.

What were the lessons you took after from this workshop?

A key lesson I learnt was rising up to opportunities. Before the workshop, I was comfortable with the little work I was doing and in the little space I was in. But the workshop made me recognize my potential and what I can do if I rise up to opportunities. Dreams can be realised when we actively look and take on the opportunities before us.

Did this workshop help you get to where you are now? How?

Yes, I am more confident, informed and empowered to sit at the board table and contribute to the work needed in my country. One of the speakers challenged me when she told us that we limit ourselves by not stepping up to the table. We are comfortable sitting at the back and provide only a helping hand. I realised, to be heard I need to sit at the table where the discussion is happening. I used this statement as a reminder each time at work to be actively involved in the discussions and decision-making. My work involves working closely with National Leaders in the political arena – providing technical support to ensuring Solomon Islands considers sustainable management of its natural resources. I am now comfortable interacting and provide my technical support to these leaders.
Why do you want to work in Basketball?

I love basketball is an overused cliché but there is no better way to describe it. Growing up in a country where girls playing sport is rarely acknowledged, I was able to learn the beauty of the game and used all aspect of the game to shape who I am today. I was a point guard; this taught me to take responsibility on and off the court, to ensure I communicate well and understand my fellow teammates. Playing the game taught me to appreciate working in a team, interacting with diverse individuals who all bring their own skill set to ensure the team meets its goal, to win. My experience drives me to want to continue working in this sport, to make sure other female experience what I have as well.

What advice would you give to young women in Solomon Islands?

We all can lead, title or not – It is now our time to inspire young girls in Solomon Islands to engage in sport. It is our time to empower other young girls and women to feel confident enough to take up sports as a career. It is our time to do it right – let’s support each other to ensure more young girls play this great game of basketball.

What do you hope to do next?

I aspire to create a broad network – nationally, regionally and internationally to support the development of Basketball in Solomon Islands.

FIBA is extremely proud to be able to help the education and advancement of women in sport.