It was a dark day in New Zealand when we lost former Silver Fern Tania Dalton at just 45 – but six years on, her legacy has never been louder with the Tania Dalton Foundation – a charity established in her honour that aims to make a meaningful difference to young New Zealanders by supporting young people, from all circumstances and stages of development, to unlock their talent and be their best selves. In the run-up to the foundation’s annual fundraiser, we chat to Tania’s remarkable daughter Tayla about the work she’s doing to remember her beloved mum in the way she’d hope she was remembered.
Hey Tayla! We’re so excited about this year’s Tania Dalton Foundation gala dinner. What does it mean to you to see so many people supporting your mother’s legacy?
As we all know Mum was second to none – the most incredible human to walk this earth – and keeping her legacy alive was something that was always going to happen. It only makes it sweeter that this is especially through the Tania Dalton Foundation, as this is what she is all about – helping and mentoring others, making those around her better to reach their potential, giving back to communities, and coming together for the love of sport. It is so touching to see the support that everyone continues to give TDF, it shows what an amazing person Mum was, and we know she will be watching over what we are all doing with the foundation and will be beaming with pride.
You’ve followed in your mum’s footsteps and now represent New Zealand in basketball – tell us a little bit about what you’re up to in the basketball space at the moment!
I am currently on a Scholarship at Saint Mary’s College of California to play Division One basketball, which allows me to get a free education while playing some of the very best athletes at this level. I have recently been away with the New Zealand Tall Ferns, we went away on a European Tour where we played Serbia, Poland and Turkey, and then went on to the Asia Cup in Sydney. We placed in the Top Four which means we are through to the Olympic Qualifiers in February!! And I have just competed for the NZ 3×3 Tall Ferns in Canada for a Women’s Series competition. So it is fair to say that basketball keeps me busy!
Did you play both basketball and netball growing up? What was it about basketball that got you hooked?
To be completely honest I played every sport under the sun growing up, and between [my brothers] Charlie, Mattie and I, our parents didn’t get a second away from sport! Netball, basketball and surf life saving were the three I had to choose from as I was finishing high school. While it felt like a tough decision at the time it was the best decision I could’ve made. I absolutely love the team aspect, the competitiveness and physicality of basketball, the pace at which it is being played, and everyone has the opportunity to show all skills on the court. Most importantly what drew me to play basketball was that it was paving my own journey outside of the accomplishments my parents achieved – I wasn’t the daughter of the Netball World Champ or the Surf Life Saving World Champ, I can be Tayla Dalton who has built her own name in basketball. This sport was so appealing as the global opportunities are incredible. I have travelled around the world to so many countries thanks to that basketball alone, and on top of that get a free education.
The TDF is all about helping other girls chase their sporting dreams. What’s the big dream with your own sport career?
My biggest dream would be to play at the Olympics. You grow up as kids watching Team New Zealand at the Olympics, and to have that opportunity myself would be so special.
How important do you feel your work is with the Tania Dalton Foundation?
It can be difficult to be hands-on involved when I am living on the other side of the world, however, we have such an unbelievable team at TDF that doing a great job at making it all work. While I am on the Board of Trustees, and reaching out to the girls where I can, Dad and the TDF team bring the magic to life.
Obviously your mum would be incredibly proud of you – are there any lessons she taught you that you’re living life by today?
I think both Mum and Dad have instilled such important lessons and values into my brothers and myself that will stay with me for life. Mum has taught me to live my life to the fullest and make the most of everyday, to be an energy-giver, always leave a conversation making the other person feel better than they did before, surround yourself with people that will steer you in the right direction and bring out the best in you, if you are going to do something do it well and work hard, and lastly to never take yourself too seriously!!
The annual Tania Dalton Foundation Gala dinner will be held on August 31 – to buy tickets click here