GREATER spotlight and exposure on women’s sport, particularly elite women’s sportis exciting, hard-earned and long-overdue.
Here comes the catch.
We do not want a professional sporting market with top women’s codes beating each other out of thegame.
The looming AFL Women’s league is creating huge hype, less than a year out from its introduction. It is hard to gauge the ripple effect this will have on other codes as the game not only poaches key players but potentially lures a whole generation of emerging athletes.
Women’s National Basketball League clubs hurt last summer when stripped of television coverage on the ABC.Bendigo Spirit head coach Simon Pritchard says the WNBL is at a cross-roads –a pivotal time in how to move forward.
Pritchardand Spirit are taking charge of their controllables.
Spirit as a whole views its position as responsibility as the pathway for developing and engaging all Victorian country basketballtalent –not just Bendigo, or in its closer ties with Basketball Ballarat, but further into places like Geelong, Shepparton or Traralgon.
And Pritchard means it.
Pritchard is spending five days deeply entrenched in the game in Ballarat. His schedule is filled with junior representative training sessions, individuals with Spirit’s Rush-rostered players and as guest speaker for a dinner leading into Basketball Ballarat women’s round on Saturday night.
This is a hands on approach with a bigger purpose than building the Bendigo Spirit brand –this is using the Spirit brand to lift the whole standard of the women’s game in Victoria.
Pritchard says there are no secrets. The more he can share and push players and coaches to improve, the more they push each other to step up and challenge higher levels. This is reinforcing the foundations.
“It’s about cumulative knowledge. We want younger coaches to spread the word on ways and ideas players can improve,” Pritchard toldPress Box. “Improve coaches and it’s a loaves-and-fishes kind of effect.”
Pritchard has been impressed with the energetic, encouraging culture and team cohesion generated in Ballarat’s junior ranks. Top players from each boys and girlsrepresentative teamsspent extra time with Pritchard early at the Minerdome on Thursday morning for added attention to detail.
This is prime Spirit recruiting ground.
Pritchard plucked emerging Rush player Molly Mathews from the Minerdome to join Spirit for her debut WNBL season last summer. Mathews’ game matured and sharpened and she has brought that back to the Minerdome this South East Australian Basketball league this season.
Rush head coach David Flint signed up as Pritchard’s assistant in an alliance that reinforcesthe pathway for our region’s young talent and Spirit players building minutes with Rush.
Ballarat and Bendigo may have a fierce on-court rivalry but whereit really matters, at state and national level, we are proudly in this together. For women’s basketball, this is vital forthe future of the game at all levels.
LEADING ROLE: Spirit head coach Simon Pritchard says there are no secrets between Bendigo and Ballarat – sharing expertise and pushing each other benefits the game at all levels across country Victoria. Pictures: Kate Healy
MENTORING: Simon Pritchard takes an individual with Rush’s Spirit import Joy Burke, Lydia Brooks and Ballarat athlete development manager Nathan Cooper-Brown.
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