Meeting Brittany Teei today, you wouldn’t know that as a teen-ager she couldn’t walk for 2 years. Or that she was in the top 50 tennis players on the world stage. Or what it took for her to get there.

From the time she picked up a racket Brittany powered through the ranks of the NZ tennis circuit. While she excelled on court, she believed that she carried her own handicap; “I felt inferior, people like me didn’t usually show up at tennis courts then.” And it was a struggle. While other players arrived in their shiny cars, her family scraped for petrol money.

This young player was good; superstar John Newcombe saw her performance and offered to coach her, pro bono. Along the way others recognized her ability and helped her. It was a lesson Brittany carried with her. “I knew I had people on my side, in my corner, people who believed in me, totally.” It took her some time to believe in herself.

The sports injury when she was 14 and at the top of her game, stopped her in her tracks. She appeared to be functioning, but behind the scenes her life was collapsing. Britt says she was an angry teen-ager who challenged the world around her. And herself. “I wondered if I was my own best friend, what I might be able to do, I did a social experiment on myself”.

In 18 months the ambitious teenager was competing in the Commonwealth Games. Britt is grateful, every day, that she had people who believed in her, and gave her time and space for critical and creative thinking.

She had the support of whānau and she knew that made all the difference to her pathway. She knew that her life beyond sport was going to be about ‘giving back.’

Brittany questioned why Māori and Pasifika youth who genuinely wanted the opportunity to work, weren’t getting it. Why were employer’s doors closed before they’d even knocked on them? “I started a tech company, hired myself, and created the work that I wanted to be part of.” This was the genesis of the online financial literacy programme ‘Kidscoin’ and the opportunity for young people to ‘earn as they learn’.

“I know that we all have things to bring to the table. Why can’t we have an ‘inclusive economy’, where everyone who wants a chance at a good job, a career path, is met with opportunity, instead of a dead end?” That was the beginning of 3 Bags Full. 3BF matches Māori and Pasifika with job opportunities in the digital and tech space, supporting them throughout their career path, to be the best that they can be.

“We take non-traditional pathways. And we just do it.”