Darren bids Coffs farwell

THIS Friday marks the last day of work for the Coffs Harbour Basketball Association's (CHBA) development officer, Darren Thomas.

Darren has come to the end of his two-year contract, and the lure of family and friends in his home State of Victoria has resulted in him moving on.

Over the past two years Darren has made a magnificent contribution to basketball at all levels in Coffs Harbour.

Almost every primary school from Woolgoolga through to Bonville has been involved in Darren's in-school and after-school programs. During these visits, Darren has firmly established basketball as the sport of choice for many young Coffs Harbour players with our Saturday primary school competition boasting as many as 94 teams.

Darren's work in holiday camps and competitions has proved to be tremendously successful with hundreds of local children given the opportunity to participate in fun basketball activities during their holiday breaks. The highly successful 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 holiday competitions have been keenly contested with up to 40 teams participating in these events each holiday.

CHBA provided financial assistance and many volunteer hours to upgrade the undercover basketball court at Sawtell primary school, with the aim of developing satellite programs in the southern part of the city. Darren has conducted holiday and after-school camps over the past year at Sawtell Public School.

On the coaching scene, Darren has been instrumental in setting up the CHBA Coaches Association and organising regular education sessions for domestic and representative coaches. High profile coaches including Peter Lonegan and Michael D'Agostino from BNSW and Eddie Calic from FIBA Oceania have featured in coaches meetings over the past two years.

Darren came to Coffs Harbour as a highly ranked referee and continued to use his refereeing expertise locally. He has assisted at referee clinics and has been the referee educator during our Friday night high school competition as well as being a regular on the State league referee panel.

Arriving in early 2006, Darren had previously been a basketball development officer in Samoa for 12 months under the Australian Government's Youth Ambassador program and an AFL development officer in Alice Springs. This experience stood him in good stead for the Coffs Harbour position but Darren would be the first to say that he was overwhelmed by the size of the association and the very few paid staff.

“I was used to Victorian Basketball where an association of 1500 members would have perhaps as many as five or six staff, working in player, coach and referee development and association administration, but mostly running their own facility,” he said.

“I have been amazed at how much work the volunteers in CHBA do to keep growing the game here - it is absolutely extraordinary.

“The local coaches have been so keen to learn more about the game, they have made my job very pleasant.

“Coffs is very lucky to have so many dedicated teachers and parents, all of whom want nothing other than to see their students or children participating in basketball.

“The extremely high standard of the Coffs Harbour representative program, from under 12s to senior level, is a testament to the extraordinary involvement of coaches, managers, parents and the association Committee of Management.”

While Thomas is returning to Victoria he stressed that a return to Coffs Harbour will always be on the cards.

“I wish everyone the very best and look forward to returning to Coffs Harbour for a holiday in the future,” he said.

“Thanks to everyone who has made my time in Coffs Harbour so valuable and enjoyable.”

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