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01 July 2020
By SARAH MATTHEWS
Incoming Horsham Amateur Basketball Association president Jon Fitzgerald has welcomed ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in the organisation’s bid to return players to the court.
Basketball Victoria has released its revised 2020-21 country event calendar, with a strong focus on a return to domestic basketball.
Mr Fitzgerald said the association hoped to open up registrations for a domestic winter competition soon.
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He said the new board’s goal was to get players back on the court.
“We will start with our juniors and our domestic competition and move forward from there,” he said.
“Obviously, a lot is still up in the air because of the virus and the constantly evolving situation. But we will put a call-out for expressions of interest and go from there.”
Mr Fitzgerald took over the reins from basketball legend Owen Hughan at an annual meeting on June 23.
“I’ve been involved with Horsham basketball in a variety of roles over the years,” he said.
“Taking on this one wasn’t on my radar when Owen announced he was going to step down, but I thought about it, and why not? What I lack in experience I make up for in enthusiasm and passion. And, as I always say, you don’t know unless you try.” Mr Fitzgerald said despite the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the association – which won a Basketball Victoria Country ‘Outstanding achievement by a medium association’ accolade in May – was in a strong position.
“That is a credit to a lot of people who have come and gone on the board in the past five or six years, and to all our volunteers – Owen being a massive influence,” he said.
“We’ve put together a great board, with a mix of experience and new faces.
“There is a good vibe around here at the moment. The wheels are in motion and we have a great team to make it happen.”
Mr Fitzgerald said he was excited to be working towards a winter domestic competition, although at this stage he was unsure of the age groups that would be involved.
“We have to meet Basketball Victoria regulations along with state and local government regulations, so there is a lot involved,” he said.
“For example, we will need to make allowances for cleaning between games, along with any physical-distancing requirements.”
Mr Fitzgerald said Basketball Victoria planned to push ahead with its Country Basketball League representative competition, from October.
The Horsham association fields men and women’s Hornets teams.
Mr Fitzgerald said the retirement of men’s coach and star player Tim Pickert would leave big shoes to fill.
Basketball Victoria has announced the cancellation or rescheduling of several events as associations across the state look to return to community sport.
Junior country championships have been cancelled for 2020, but a range of skills days, a regional academy, camp and jamboree have been rescheduled.
“I still think it’s going to be a tight schedule for tryouts for representative teams, but we have a lot of talented kids and I am glad those pathways are going to be available to them,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“We will also look to run some skills sessions of our own to kick-start things and get the ball back into kids’ hands.”
Mr Fitzgerald said association leaders looked forward to opening Horsham Basketball Stadium.
“Hopefully we can open back up soon,” he said.
“It’s an exciting prospect to think that basketball will be one of the only sports up and running.
“One of the benefits if there is no junior footy or netball is we could potentially play on Saturday and Sunday. We might also attract some new faces. It’s all pretty exciting.”
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