Laura Sutton, right, playing against Lismore.
Laura Sutton, right, playing against Lismore.

Boost for Bellingen

BASKETBALL players from the Bellingen Valley are excited about the news that the Bellinger Valley Basketball Association has officially become a member of Basketball New South Wales.

This entitles all registered players full insurance coverage at any venue throughout NSW.

It also means that many basketball players, both new and old are now able to have the choice of playing both social and competitive basketball in the Bellinger Valley.

The association has already set up a successful junior competition on Friday nights, where up to 50 youngsters come to learn about basketball and have lots of fun.

There are also senior competitions running during the week for women and men.

President of the new association, Kevin Coombes, and his committee have worked very hard to get the association up and running over the last year.

When asked why he and the committee were so passionate about getting basketball happening in Bellingen, Kevin said he grew up in Bellingen and wanted to be able to give something back to the area after all the great memories I have from here.

"The kids of Bellingen Valley need the choice of quality sporting opportunities, in a non threatening, safe environment," he said.

"The committee felt that they could provide that opportunity by setting up this association."

The committee has managed to get some quality coaches on board with the new association, all of whom have many years of coaching behind them and who relish the opportunity to be part of a new association with fresh ideas and raw talent.

The representative program is well underway, with representative teams in Under 11s, Under 13s, and under 15s having just completed the Odd Age Season under the watchful guidance of coaches; Shane Dunlop, Denise Challinor, Greg Newcombe and Alex Morgan-Lowe.

Years of experience

Shane Dunlop brings many years of coaching experience served in Victoria and is enjoying bring out the best in his group of future stars with intensive training sessions a number of times each week.

Denise also has many years of representative coaching experience behind her, and has a dedicated group of young boys.

Greg is quite new to the coaching role but is learning lots from his fellow experienced coaches and is very enthusiastic about where he sees his coaching future under their guidance.

All of these coaches are also enjoying the challenge of working with a new association that is focusing on the kids' development and their enjoyment of the sport.

Development officer

The association feels very privileged to have Alex Morgan-Lowe on board as its development officer.

Alex has played basketball at every possible level, including American college basketball, NBL, State league and School representative level.

Since he was 19, Alex has being coaching basketball and has coached and run developmental programs for State league, Academy of Sport and representative teams.

When asked why he decided to come to Bellingen Valley association as a development officer, Alex said he was very excited by the fact that this is a brand new association and they can work towards stamping a fresh style on the kids.

"I want to work on the fundamental techniques so that the kids can play really strong basketball," he said.

"I firmly believe in developing the kids and want to nurture talent where others have ignored it.

"I love coaching because I can put back some of what I have enjoyed over the years."

Alex has already starting working with the under 15 boys representative team and is hoping to foster a great coach/player relationship with all his players.

Alex is keen to provide developmental opportunities to all basketball players, even those registered with another association.

The representative program will be continuing in full swing for the Northern Junior League Even Age program, commencing early next year, with many other basketball associations issuing invitations and offering support to the newcomers, including Lismore, Tamworth, Port Macquarie and Grafton, just to name a few.

The children have already had successful 'friendly' competitions against Lismore and Tamworth associations and are enjoying getting to know the other basketballers.

The association has also been invited to tour New Zealand, and hopes to be able to do this in 2007.

Trial dates

Trial dates for the 2006 Even Age series will be held on Saturday, January 28 at Bellingen High School and Saturday, February 4 at the Jetty High School.

Times and costing will be advised closer to the date.

Further events being planned include a program for disadvantaged youth from the Bellingen and Nambucca valleys.

This program will be co-coordinated by Tania Orchard, who hopes to see this underway early next year.

Tania has played premier level basketball herself, but also sees this association as an opportunity to tie in with other indigenous programs for children, working towards creating sporting opportunities for disadvantaged children.

Looking for sponsors

The association is currently looking for sponsors, particularly for its representative teams.

This would be a great opportunity to have your business on team uniforms etc and would certainly guarantee great exposure for your business.

The association will work out a sponsor program to suit your needs and they would particularly like businesses to adopt a representative team.

They are also looking for assistance with the developmental and disadvantaged youth programs.

A big thankyou to McDonalds for their continuing support of our Association.

If you would like to sponsor a team, or find out more about the competitions being played each week please contact Kevin Coombes (President) on 6658 1050 or Lee Donkin (Secretary) on 6651 2779.

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