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Girl power goes sour: Backlash over basketball court's colour change

Author
RNZ,
Publish Date
Sun, 20 Mar 2022, 9:52am
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Girl power goes sour: Backlash over basketball court's colour change

Author
RNZ,
Publish Date
Sun, 20 Mar 2022, 9:52am

A spruced-up basketball court in Christchurch has been caught up in a flurry of Facebook comments claiming it plays into gender stereotypes. 

Christchurch City Council posted a statement announcing a newly painted Branston Park basketball court in Hornby, sparked by consultation for the park's scheduled renewal. 

A group of young girls from South Hornby School said they were intimidated to use the courts, and thought bright colours would make the space more welcoming. 

In combination with the council, a local community board and basketball club Wharenui Gators, the courts were painted pink, yellow and green. 

On Friday, there were 160 comments on the council's post, largely criticising the project. 

"Must be so hard for girls these days using spaces that aren't colourful," one user said. 

"The Christchurch City Council's decision to paint a basketball court pink to encourage female players is ... awesome! Hopefully, they provided a courtside rack for their Barbie dolls and made the hoop half-height though," another said. 

"I don't think a bit of colour makes a difference at all. Far out whoever makes these decisions needs sacking. Just showing more wasting of money by our council," wrote one user. 

In the council's statement, community board chair Mike Mora said "we're getting positive feedback from the local community who say they love how it looks." 

The council added more information to the release in response to the comments. 

Head of parks Andrew Rutledge said local and international research showed that girls did not access public sports spaces as much as boys, and this was raised in the consultation process. 

"A discussion was had amongst the children about different ways to share the court between boys and girls. 

"The idea of the coloured court was supported not specifically because they were pink/yellow/green, but also because the court was bright and they felt that this would encourage them to play." 

Based on the consultation, Rutledge said the revamp would not only encourage girls to engage in sport more, but would make the space more welcoming for everyone. 

Women in Sport Aotearoa chief executive Rachel Froggatt said she hoped "differences could be put aside" between people engaging online and the leaders of the project. 

"[They] so obviously initiated this project with an intent to help solve sport participation issues for girls locally," she said. 

But she also understood the perspectives of the commenters: "we applaud the passion and conviction of local community members who so obviously feel strongly about equity of access for girls to sporting facilities." 

Wharenui Gators will host community events to encourage more girls' interest in basketball in the coming months. 

- by RNZ