Statement regarding Barwon Basketball

Basketball Geelong Inc. is disappointed in the article published today in the Geelong Advertiser inferring that junior basketball is in tatters in the Geelong region following a breakdown in discussions between the regions associations regarding unified strategies. Basketball in the Geelong region is thriving, not dying as some might have you believe.

The article inspired by an exclusive Press Release from Basketball Victoria Country’s GM David Huxtable to the Geelong Advertiser claims that the Geelong region will be left behind because the local associations were unable to reach agreement on the Barwon strategy. It claims that the new stadium constructions in Bendigo, Ballarat and Traralgon set those regions up for greater success than our own, but what the article does not take into account is geographical differences between the other regions and Geelong, nor the basketball landscape created by Basketball Victoria Country over the past 20+ years.

The Geelong, Bellarine and Surf Coast region is different to many others. Our region is home to three large country basketball associations, a newly formed Surf Coast association to take over the existing shire run Torquay competition, Try Boys Basketball Association that largely facilitates the Try Boys Basketball Club and on the outskirts of town, Colac and the Golden Plains basketball associations. It is important to take all of this into context when discussing and planning for basketball in the region. In the Geelong Basketball League this winter, we have 53 teams from Lara and 35 teams from the Surf Coast, these two clubs are more than 35km’s apart, separated by a bay, meaning that a centralised multi-court stadium may not be the best solution. Then if you factor in the different needs and different locations of the local associations, a centralised multi-court stadium may not be the best solution. The sport of basketball is thriving in Geelong and the development of stadiums is paramount to the continued success of the sport. Associations and clubs require multi-court facilities to succeed, but the current landscape calls for more diversity than in some other areas of the state. With a forecast 60+ teams in Basketball Geelong’s Summer competition, Lara Basketball Club are desperate for a facility large enough to cater for the club’s needs, the growing population in the Bellarine means the BPBA are pushing for additional courts in Drysdale and the recent support from the Federal Government will see the establishment of 3 new courts in Torquay. Combined with the six courts established by Basketball Geelong in partnership with AWA Alliance Bank in Belmont the local associations are already working delivering on the growing needs of the sport.

Any assessment of the need to build a large stadium should also consider current and future assets of the region. While the WNBL Pre-Season may have headed to Traralgon last weekend, the Melbourne Boomers have played a game for regular season points at the Geelong Arena every year for the past two seasons and will return for year number three on the 19th October vs the Canberra Capitals. The Geelong Arena is regarded as one of, if not, the best SEABL venues in the league, at just short of 1600 seats it caters for this level of competition perfectly. A large stadium in the Geelong region would need to be larger than those constructed in Bendigo or Ballarat to future proof the opportunities for the sport, with Geelong being only 45 minutes from Melbourne, an Australian Boomers game or similar could attract a larger crowd than it did in Bendigo. Given a stadium of this size may only be required a few times a year, or a dozen if it becomes the home of the Supercats, it may be possible to achieve this through a well-designed Conference Centre, allowing Local, State and Federal to concentrate on delivering stadiums across the region to cater for domestic basketball.

It is important to remember that the core business of any basketball association is domestic competitions. Elite programs, whether junior or senior are simply a product of a strong local association. In the past 5 years, Basketball Geelong has seen an increase of 29% in the number of teams entered into the local winter competition, with the summer competition projected to be close to 500 teams. It was the view of the Basketball Geelong Inc. Commission that the proposed Barwon Basketball Strategy did not go far enough to create a successful and financially sustainable strategy for the region.

In December 2016, Basketball Geelong’s CEO Dean Anglin and then Operations Manager of Bellarine Vicki King presented a discussion paper to Basketball Victoria Country proposing a similar model to AFL Barwon. While the AFL Barwon model was alluded to in today’s article, it failed to mention that the Barwon Basketball strategy would have only been one small element of what exists in the other sport. The AFL Barwon model includes regional governance, competition management of multiple leagues, management of two sports, management of elite programs and development and management of umpiring; at the time Basketball Geelong decided to withdraw from the discussions regarding Barwon Basketball, the only thing on the table was an elite junior program. As an association, we have worked extremely hard over the past 5 years to create a financially viable, strong association that can provide a pathway for players, coaches and officials from Aussie Hoops to a semi-national league in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL).

Basketball Geelong Inc. remains committed to delivering the best competitions and pathways in the region and believes that it has acted in the best interest of its clubs, members and players in withdrawing from the Barwon Basketball negotiations.

For more information contact Basketball Geelong’s CEO Dean Anglin dean@basketballgeelong.com.au