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Bello bounce back

Bellingen basketballers, from left, Nikki McNamara, Rachel Hoy and Kayla Shepherd in training for the new competition.
Bellingen basketballers, from left, Nikki McNamara, Rachel Hoy and Kayla Shepherd in training for the new competition.

By MITCHELL DALE

KEVIN Coombes hopes that by the time his two-year-old grandson wants to start lining up jump shots and free-throws, he will be doing it in Bellingen.

Coombes has been a driving force behind the re-birth of basketball in the Bellinger Valley, an area which has not had a junior program for a decade or a senior competition for six years.

The new Bellinger Valley Basketball Association competition kicks-off on Friday night at Bellingen High School's multi-purpose hall, starting at 5pm.

Coombes, who is president of the BVBA, wants to make sure basketball is played in Bellingen for good this time after a stop-start history.

"I'm not just here for 12 months, I'm here for keeps," Coombes says.

"I'm not going anywhere and I want to see basketball in Bellingen stay around forever.

"I want to see my grandchildren playing for Bellingen."

Coombes also wants to see junior representative sides coming out of the Valley by the end of the year.

"There is an odd-age carnival at Grafton, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie in October and that is our first aim for representative teams," he said.

The BVBA has already attracted the interest of around 50 local basketball lovers.

"We've had around 40-50 people express interest, but I am hoping more will turn up," Coombes says.

"I have been told that people in the Bellinger Valley won't come in straight away, they will generally follow others in.

"Everybody is welcome to come on Friday, we are looking for anyone in the Bellinger Valley, men and women.

"It's not just open to juniors, we want to see seniors as well, we already have a couple of mens and womens (open-age) teams.

"The original plan (for juniors) is to kick things off with ages nine to 12 and High School students.

"Then within a few months we will look at training the seven and eight year-olds so they are ready for competitions next year."

Coombes has achieved plenty in basketball as both a player and coach, now he wants to transfer that success strike-rate across to officialdom.

"I have been successful in everything I have attempted, that is why I am attacking this so hard," he says.

"It will take 12 months to two years to get everything going, but I am confident."