BENDIGO Braves have been swamped with interest in their junior teams with massive numbers turning out for the first two of three tryouts for the 2018-19 season.
More than 370 youngsters have hit the courts at Bendigo Stadium over the last two weekends to trial for the club’s under-18, under-16, under-14 and under-12 boys and girls teams.
But despite the huge response, numbers are a little thin in at least two age brackets.
Basketball Bendigo director of coaches and athlete development Joe Hurst said good opportunities still existed in the under-18 and under-12 girls divisions.
“We’d love to see a few more of the under-18 and under-12 girls out here, but there’s still one weekend to go,” he said.
“We’ll take new people (this Sunday), it only takes one tryout to impress the coaches.
“If there’s a group with low numbers there’s every chance you will standout, but now is the time.
“I do have to say the health of junior basketball here, particularly boys basketball is incredible and that’s pretty much the same with the girls, depending on the age bracket.”
Hurst, who is in his eighth month in the role, said the tryouts were ‘new territory’ for him.
“It’s been a very busy couple of weeks and a bit of a learning curve, but exactly what I expected,” he said.
The tryouts come at an exciting time for basketball in Bendigo, with the Braves women set to contest a second-straight SEABL national grand final this weekend and Bendigo Stadium to soon host a NBL pre-season game between Melbourne United and Sydney Kings and a FIBA World Cup qualifier between the Australian Boomers and Kazakhstan on September 17.
Hurst did not hesitate in describing Bendigo as the ‘mecca’ of regional basketball in Australia.
“We are really excited and we’d like to expose these (Braves) kids to those top-level players, get some workshops happening and hopefully have our coaches get involved,” he said.
Bendigo Stadium Limited general manager of sport Ben Harvey said a pleasing factor about the Braves junior program was the involvement of former senior and SEABL players.
He listed David Flint, Andrew Arundell, Justin Cass, David Beks, David Hogan and Ben McCauley as some of the former players giving plenty back to the club through their junior ties.