Turkish-born teenager Ceren Goksenin arrived in Australia as an eight-year-old in 2006, travelling by plane with her mother and brother. They now live in Shepparton with her stepfather.
Ceren comes from a family of basketballers; her brother plays competitively in Shepparton and her mother began to play back in Turkey when she was as young as grade five. So when Ceren started asking to play basketball simply because she “wanted to,” it was an aspiration completely understood by her family. It seems it’s in their blood.
With the money from a Sports Without Borders Sports Scholarship Ceren paid registration fees for a season of basketball. Training has recently ceased due to a decrease in numbers but the games are still on, and they’re a family affair. “When (my mum and brother) watch my games they help me out with what I can improve on,” Ceren says. Their presence on the sideline is something she’s used to. Being a beginner player, Ceren hasn’t found a particular position on the court that calls to her. Instead she’s trying them all out and “is getting used to (the game).” Is she improving? “Yes,” she agrees, “I’m getting better too.”
Although Ceren knew nobody on the team to begin with, her team are becoming her friends. “I just met them,” she says, but “they’re really nice.” One attends school at Isik College with her and the rest are new though fast-becoming friendly faces.
Ceren’s dreams for the future are about as far from basketball as they could get; “I want to be a forensic scientist,” she says, citing “science, humanities and English” as her favourite subjects. Although she may have a lot of studying to look forward to, for now her life is a mix of school, friends and sport. Basketball is “fun,” Ceren says. “I like running around.”
And is her mum, Ayse, happy that Ceren is playing what seems to be the family game? Speaking over the phone with Ceren as translator, Ceren tells me “Yes, my mum is proud. She likes to see me play.” With her daughter’s career in forensic science on the horizon, it looks like this pride will need some room to grow.