Deadly AILC Trainer Timmy Duggan is a man of many talents.

Timmy is a born and bred Darwin man with family connections to the Wurramungu people of central Australia and the Nykinya people of the Kimberley. Following the recent success of Patty Mills leading the Boomers to a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, we thought we would talk with Timmy about his other passion – Basketball.

Timmy was the first Northern Territorian to play in the National Basketball League, and he has gone on to set up a Aboriginal business called Hoops4Health.


Hoops4Health works with young people using basketball as the medium. The program operates in youth justice centres and remote communities.  Hoops4Health incorporates a ‘calmness on the court’ approach helping young people to take control of their decision making starting with  interactions on the basketball court.  Program leaders use mental imagery and yarning/calmness circles to lead post-game reflections on individual behaviour and team performance.

The fundamental philosophy of Hoops4 Health is to always celebrate the success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  With World Champion boxer Anthony Mundine as the Ambassador – it’s clear that success is the way to go!

About Timmy Duggan

In 1996, when Timmy was 18, he became the first person from the Northern Territory to join the National Basketball League. "

"It didn’t seem like a big deal but looking back it probably was.  I was so young and not even 6 feet! But I was really driven – I loved watching the basketball go into the hoop.   it was like a high for me." says Timmy.

Timmy Duggan (L) 1999 Cairns Taipans v Townsville Crocs Pic: Cairns post

There have only been around 18 Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander players in the history of the NBL.  It is testament to Timmy's skill and resilience that he was one of the first. 

"I want to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players in the League.  That’s why we have been working with Patty Mills and Indigenous Basketball Australia. We know the talent is out there and we want to create the pathways."  

Timmy's first job was with the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern.  There he worked with people to build their mental and physical wellbeing.  Hoops4Health combines the power of physical movement and skills development with mental health exercises to build personal confidence and pathways for participants.  Hoops4Health is using basketball to change the direction of young people's lives.

About Hoops4Health

Hoops4Health is more than just a Basketball Ball program.  It is a lifestyle program with a variety of coaches and customised approaches for different groups or individual clients.

For example, there is a Hoops4Health team working with inmates of the Darwin Youth Justice Centre, Don Dale. There is also a  program for adults in a rehabilitation setting.  And, the Hoops4Health academy delivers a program for young people between the ages of 10 and 15 years.  

Hoops4Health has been running for more than 20 years, mostly across northern Australia but we also work in Alice Springs and the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytatjara (NPY) Lands.

The Hoops4Health approach

Hoops4Health coaches use a model based on helping participants recognise triggers that generate negative responses in the brain.  We teach young people how to regulate those responses, manage their emotions and make positive decisions.

The program teaches young people self-reflection.  The tools and strategies they learn, such as deep-breathing, changing perspective and mental imagery, can be applied at school, with their friends and in their home life.

What makes Hoops4Health unique, and in Timmy's view successful, is the combination of  mental skills development activities with strength and endurance training.

Strength and conditioning gurus Billy Johnstone, former North QLD Cowboys strength & conditioning coach, and Paddy Stephenson from Fitness Frequency in Darwin are both part of the Hoops4Health team. They bring advanced drills and skills based on Basketball Australia Head of High-Performance Peter Lonergan's  training program, to the Hoops4Health program.

Timmy believes that regular sessions that get the heart rate up and the sweat flowing, builds confidence and helps young people take on life's challenges.

The physical exertion and resulting endorphins also prepare the participants for the mental work that is so important in the Hoops4Health approach. 

Each session concludes with an approach called Calmness on The Court.  This is a time to reflect.  If possible, parents, carers and spectators are included in the session. The session focuses on the positive aspects of the game, individual and team performance.  For many kids it may be their only positive experience that week. Having fun is a very important factor in the programs success.

Working with Patty Mills

Hoops4Health has delivered several inspirational and motivational sessions for the Patty Mills Indigenous Basketball Australia Indigenous Community Basketball League (ICBL). The sessions teach resilience, being proud of your identity and health sessions. Young people have so much to contribute, and Hoops4Health is using basketball to create  pathways for young people.

Learn more

Facebook: Hoops4HealthAUS


Facebook: indigenousbasketball


Website: Cultural safety in basketball