RISING STAR: 17-year-old Joe Bird has been selected to represent Special Olympics Queensland in basketball at the nationals in Adelaide in April.
RISING STAR: 17-year-old Joe Bird has been selected to represent Special Olympics Queensland in basketball at the nationals in Adelaide in April. Lachlan McIvor

Teenager needs a lift to help achieve his hoop dreams

BASKETBALL: Inspired by NBA superstar Kevin Durant, 17-year-old Joe Bird has quickly taken to basketball like a fish to water and displayed some impressive performances.

After only picking up the game two years ago, he will now compete for Queensland at the Special Olympics Australia National Games in Adelaide in April.

The point guard was picked for the national titles after a strong showing at the state games, where his side finished fourth, and he is looking ahead to getting out onto the court in what will be the biggest spotlight he has played under so far.

He points to his three-point shooting game and ability to get into the paint and lay it in off the backboard as his major strengths.

"I'm very excited (for the nationals) so I can show the world my skills,” Joe said.

"This is the biggest thing I have done. I'm nervous and excited ... I know that I will do my best.

"Kevin Durant was the one who inspired me to get into it, he's why I got into basketball ... I've been improving every single day and I already got to nationals in a flash.”

He first started playing in Gatton but found options limited, until the Regency Downs teenager found out about the Special Olympics program a year ago.

"There weren't really teams (in Gatton), so I went to the Special Olympics because I knew they went all around the world so that could help me go towards my dream,” he said.

"(My favourite part of basketball) is just showing my skills, learning to be a team and just trying your best.”

But getting to nationals is far from cheap and his family needs to raise $3400 to even get him on the court in Adelaide.

"We were only told (we needed to raise this amount of money) at the end of October,” mother Shannon said.

"We have to have it in by the end of February.”

The Bird family is holding a trivia night, featuring raffles, auctions and quizzes, on Saturday at 6.30pm at the St Patrick's Parish Hall in Laidley to help fund the trip.

"We've already done one trivia night and this is our last major event we can do,” Shannon said.

"We're just wanting the community to come out and help us and support Joe.”

Items, including a cricket bat signed by Brisbane Heatplayer Chris Lynn, will be up for grabs and tickets are $15, which includes supper.

RSVP by February 9 by phoning Shannon on 0419759102 or emailing her on sjjbird3@gmail.com.