The Surf Coast Shire has an array of scenic wonders with its coastline, beaches and forest walks. Another hidden gem lies in this south-west region of Victoria though; a basketball association rich in enthusiasm and talent.
With the population increasing exponentially over the last 10 years on the Surf Coast, there has been a growing need for further basketball opportunities and enhanced pathways.
This realisation led to an idea that came to life four years ago, and with this Surfcoast Basketball Association (SBA) was born.
The work of a passionate basketball community has built SBA to be the home of youth basketball development on the Surf Coast, with an Aussie Hoops program, domestic competition and pathway into representative basketball through the Surfcoast Chargers.
This surge in player participation at Surfcoast Chargers sees them enter more teams than ever before in the 2021 Victorian Junior Basketball League (VJBL), marking a historic moment for this young association.
Chargers Under-14 girls coach Melanie Jackson said the return to VJBL means more than ever knowing it is such a pivotal moment in the SBA story.
“The kids involved in this year’s Chargers VJBL teams are pumped to be getting on the court and the parents are equally excited that their kids have the opportunity to represent their local association here on the Surf Coast,” Jackson said.
“It was a shame that the last season was cut short, however, we have come back this season with an SBA Chargers Representative team at each age level for boys and girls.”
This year, Surfcoast have six representative teams from Under-12 to Under-16 for both girls and boys, with three teams in the 2021 VJBL season and the other three set to compete in Country Junior Championships and tournaments throughout the year.
Having played basketball her whole life, Jackson said the common goal of the Surfcoast basketball community is to develop players as athletes and social individuals.
“We are so lucky to have a strong selection of players that live on the Surf Coast that are passionate about basketball and representing SBA,” Jackson explained.
“These players are supported by an amazingly skilled group of coaches who volunteer their time to further develop the players skills and guide them through these new experiences in representative basketball, all of whom have participated in representative basketball themselves,
“This VJBL season, I’m most looking forward to providing opportunities for our experienced players and new players to participate competitively in representative basketball ever Friday night while building the camaraderie and skills required to take their basketball to the next level – from domestic to representative.”
Jackson will coach the Under-14 girls with Brendan McKeegan as assistant coach this year. She said she has high hopes for the success of her Chargers team this year with a mix of new and old players who have a strong team spirit.
“We worked together last season coaching the Under-14 girls in their first year which was a wonderful experience to see these girls grow and develop, particularly their teamwork,” Jackson said.
“Three of the team members have moved up to Under-16 this season, so we have seven top age girls who have had representative experience and are already they are sharing their knowledge with their new teammates.
“We have Milla Browning, Sienna McCumber, Hetty Jones, Greea McKeegan, Georgia Wall, Zoe McCardel and Milla Wall continuing this season as leaders, while our new recruits, Ella Condon, Sunday Lewis and Marlie Collett, join them with their passion for basketball.”
This season of basketball will also see the unveiling of SBA’s new home in Wurdi Baierr Stadium, which Jackson suggests will add a sense of unity to her humble association.
“The new four court stadium is such an amazing asset for the community in Torquay,” Jackson said. “The name Wurdi Baierr means it’s a ‘meeting place’ where the community can come together.”
“Basketball is a growing sport on the Surfcoast and establishing the SBA in the brand-new facility of Wurdi Baierr increases interest for new players and excitement for existing players, who just can’t wait to dribble and shoot their first goal on the new courts!”