BAMAGA’S newest sporting sensation is on her way to achieving her dream of playing for Australia.
Northern Peninsula Area State College student Bethany Nona represented Peninsula School Sport at the under 18 girls state basketball championships held in Toowoomba earlier this year.
The 17-year-old, who began playing basketball at school just two years ago, is the first female student from the NPA to be picked for a state squad.
Currently in year 12, Nona was invited after impressing selectors during the under 18s basketball trials in Cairns earlier this year.
The talented basketball star said her next goal is making it to the Women’s National Basketball League.
“I’m excited because I want to show my family how much I enjoy playing and I would love to represent my culture,” she said.
“I’d love to be the first young Indigenous girl to play basketball professionally from my community.
“It’s an honour to show who I am and my true identity through basketball.”
Coach and teacher Danielle Hewes took six students to the trials but said Bethany was the clear stand-out.
Nona’s passion inspired Bamaga Enterprises Limited (BEL) to award her with a $2500 sponsorship that allowed both her and her mother, Therese Tugai, to travel to the Darling Downs region for the competition.
BEL chairperson Robert Poipoi said helping young athletes achieve their goals was a priority for the business.
“Bethany is an inspiration to her community as well as her school peers, and I hope this is only the beginning of her basketball journey,” Mr Poipoi said.
“Her mother’s application on Bethany’s behalf made it very clear how supportive her family and school are of Bethany’s dreams.
“The team at Bamaga Enterprises Limited is proud to have helped a rising star continue to flourish.”
Ms Tugai, a mother to four teenage girls, said BEL’s contribution was greatly appreciated.
“I was very emotional,” Ms Tugai says.
“There were happy tears because I was so excited for Bethany, but I did feel a heavy weight on my shoulders to make the trip happen and at one stage, fundraising got a bit rough.
“But then, when the sponsorship came, it felt like a nice, bright light at the end of the tunnel.”
After overcoming some pre-game nerves, Ms Tugai said her daughter thrived at the highly competitive tournament.
“Bethany’s got to come out of her shell,” Ms Tugai said.
“It was challenging but she stood out to her teammates, and they depended on her the more they played together. I am so proud of her.”
Nona is planning to study at a Brisbane university next year.
Once there, her teacher and coach, Danielle Hewes, is determined to connect the promising youngster with Basketball Queensland officials who can help her join a representative competition.
“Bethany’s leadership skills and high dedication, as well as her need to keep learning, are what sets her apart,” Ms Hewes says.
“As a teacher and coach, I could see her potential right away.”