GV Wheelies are on the court training and are hoping they can have a competitive game of basketball after not playing for more than a year due to a decline in playing numbers in Victoria.OLIVER CAFFREY February 6, 2014 4:05am
GV Wheelies, pictured in action in 2011, have not played a competitive match in more than a year with a decline in playing numbers across the state.
A lack of scheduled competitive games has not dulled their enthusiasm for the sport.
Shepparton wheelchair basketballers began training on Tuesday night, despite no matches on the horizon to look forward to.
GV Wheelies did not play a competitive game last year either, with playing numbers dropping off across the state, forcing authorities to cancel any planned matches.
However, planning is under way for a revamped State Wheelchair Basketball Competition.
Wheelies coach Neville Thorn is hoping Basketball Victoria, which took over management of wheelchair basketball last year, will guide the sport out of the wilderness.
‘‘We’re waiting to find out if there’s any tournaments we can go to — normally there’s one here in Shepparton and one in Melbourne, but last year they both didn’t get off the ground,’’ Thorn said.
‘‘One of the reasons why our numbers dropped off a bit last year is that we didn’t have any tournaments to go to, but Basketball Victoria has taken it over now.’’
Basketball Victoria has been attempting to gather more numbers in traditional wheelchair basketball areas, including Bendigo, Ballarat, Melbourne, Traralgon and the Goulburn Valley.
Thorn, who has been coach for more than six years, said the playing group had been extremely committed and resilient throughout his time in charge.
‘‘The boys have been very committed the whole time, and we’ve pretty much had the same boys all the way through,’’ Thorn said.
‘‘Every time we do lose someone to work or moving away from the area, we tend to be able to replace them fairly quickly and always have enough guys to train and play.’’
Thorn said 10 players attended the first training session at Shepparton Sports Stadium, with people coming from across the Goulburn Valley.
‘‘One comes from Tungamah, we have one from Waaia, Mooroopna and a couple from Shepparton, so it’s a pretty great group,’’ Thorn said.
It is a sport for all ages, with the youngest player being 17, while the oldest turns 74 this year.
‘‘If we could get more people to come down that would be great and if we had more disabled people it would also help,’’ Thorn said.
Training is every Tuesday starting at 6
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