Giant effort on and off the court

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Justin FrisGeraldton Guardian
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S&K Electrical Geraldton Buccaneers centre James “JP” Paringatai is a man who gives as much effort on the court as he does off it.

Originally from Taihape, New Zealand, Paringatai forged a successful career with the Southland Sharks in the New Zealand National Basketball League, before heading to WA to play basketball in Australia.

But regardless of where he plays, looking out for others seems to come naturally to the Kiwi.

Paringatai works as an operations officer for the Clontarf Foundation in Geraldton, where he mentors young indigenous teenagers.

“Why we do it (mentoring) is the best part,” he said.

“A lot of these boys don’t have the support structures behind them when they leave school.

“We try to be that support structure for them. They can come in and have breakfast if they want to and if they need an extra top, we’ve got one.

“It’s the little rewards in this job that make it a lot more enjoyable.”

Growing up in Taihape (420km south of Auckland), Paringatai loved being outdoors and spending time with family.

“For me, it was awesome,” he said.

“There was always something to do even though it was a small town of about 1600 people.

“I was in a family that had a big extended family. You could walk past 15 people and you’d know all 15 of them.

“We got into our little hobbies and cliques and we still all go back home and hang out like we did back in high school.

“Basketball was just fun. I played rugby when I was a bit younger, but once I got to 13 or 14, I didn’t play anything.

“Somewhere between 14 and 15, I think I grew 12cm, so going back to school in Year 10 after the holidays, I was 196cm and kind of pushed into basketball.

“The following year, I got a scholarship to Wanganui City College and it went from there.”

Paringatai was a foundation member of the Southland Sharks, who entered the NZ NBL in 2010.

In a career spanning 101 games, he was captain for four seasons, winning two championships under the guidance of current NZ Breakers and NZ Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare.

Although he enjoys Geraldton and receives plenty of support from Buccaneers supporters during home games, Paringatai’s biggest fan lives in Invercargill, on New Zealand’s South Island.

“I’d love to go back to Southland one day and finish (my career) there,” he said. “Finish what we started. It would be good to play in front of my son for one more year, now he’s getting a little bit older.

“He’s five and he likes basketball and any sport which is outdoors.”

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