Long time New Zealand Tall Ferns head coach Kennedy Kereama has announced his resignation from the position with immediate effect.
Kereama had been a member of the Tall Ferns programme for ten years having begun his association with the team as the video technician at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He was later appointed to the assistant coaching role under Shawn Dennis, before inheriting the Head Coach position 12 months later, when Dennis stood down.
Kereama’s most recent assignment was the2017 FIBA Women’s Asia Cup played in Bengaluru, India where the Tall Ferns finished sixth needing a top four finish to claim a place at the FIBA 2018 World Cup.
Kereama admitted it wasn’t easy to give up a role that has been a major part of his life for the last eight years.
“It is tough to walk away but as I had decided that I wouldn’t be coaching beyond the Commonwealth Games next year I felt it would be selfish to continue.
“The next coach needs time to stamp his or her mark on the programme and give themselves the best chance to build a team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I truly believe that the Tall Ferns can qualify and compete at this event and the next three years are vital to making this happen.
“If I was to carry on coaching, it takes away the opportunity the next coach has to build towards a successful Olympic campaign.
“Every opportunity I have had to wear the black uniform has been a privilege and my life has been enriched by the experience,” he added.
Kereama said he had worked with many outstanding players, coaches and support staff during his tenure but he did want to single out one person for a special mention.
“Aik Ho has been with me as an assistant coach for the whole of the journey. He has been an absolute rock and incredibly loyal. No job has been too big for him and I am extremely grateful for his support.”
The Cantabrian insisted he would be giving the next Tall Ferns coach his full backing.
“I am taking time out but I’m not walking away from the game and the next coach will have my total support.
“I’m excited about the future of both the Tall Ferns and Tall Blacks teams and I look forward to watching their continued success from the stands and TV,” said Kereama.
Basketball New Zealand CEO Iain Potter paid tribute to the work done by Kereama.
“Kennedy has made an enormous contribution to the Tall Ferns programme and women’s basketball in New Zealand over many years – remarkable because he is still a young coach by international standards.
“He has been at the helm through some tough financial times for the team where they played with limited preparation but nevertheless produced some admirable results – beating Spain in 2016 and pushing world powerhouse Australia all the way in the 2015 Oceania Championship.
“Kennedy has always been upbeat, positive and a determined supporter of the Tall Ferns, he did and does absolutely believe in them. He has been a pleasure to have as part of the elite coaching group available to BBNZ. We are grateful for his time at the helm,” added Potter.
After coaching age group teams in his native Canterbury, Kereama cut his teeth as assistant coach of the Christchurch Sirens in 2007/08, and later coached the Perth based West Coast Waves in the Australian WNBL.
Kereama is based in Melbourne coaching Sunbury Jets in the Big V League. His team won the State Championship title earlier this year – Kereama named Coach of the Year for that achievement.