When the Australian Junior Championships were first born, it was a male stomping ground.
A breeding ground for the nation’s most talented basketballers, the first of the Championships started in 1954 with the Under-18 Men’s Championships in Launceston, Tasmania. Following a year later were the inaugural Under-16 Men’s Championships in 1955.
A commentary on the times, a female outlet to participate in these national titles did not exist until 1965. Women’s teams from each Australian state competed in their first ever Under-18 Championships.
This success saw the same format integrated into the Under-16 Championships six years on.
Despite wins in Men’s national competitions, our first Women’s win was slow burn.
1975 Australia. Gough Whitlam is Prime Minister, full-time colour broadcasting launches and North Melbourne becomes the last team in the VFL to win a premiership.
Additionally, Sale hosts the Under-16 Australian Championships, while Canberra is home to the Under-18 Australian Championships. Teams fly in to compete in Men’s and Women’s competitions to prove themselves as the nation’s toughest competitors.
The Victorian Under-16 and Under-18 Women entered their Championships having never won a title.
Victoria had played in the finals on several prior occasions, sometimes their losses in the finals split by a mere point or two.
Under the tutelage of head coaches Bruce Case (Under-18) and Maris Polis (Under-16), both leave 1975 shedding a Cinderella image in junior girls’ basketball, winning their first junior titles in each age group.
Fast-forward fifty years and Victoria has relished in thirty-five Under-16 and thirty-six Under-18 female national titles, as well as holding the longest winning streak in both age groups – 14-years for Under-16’s and 13-years in Under-18’s.
In all this glory, it’s easy to forget the roots of where Victoria’s success originated.
Without our 1975 double domination, what we know today may have never been…