A BASKETBALL visionary, one of Australia’s pre-eminent administrators, a great mentor and a wonderful role model – this is how long-time basketball administrator Max Brisbane is being remembered.
Tributes for Brisbane, who died at Epworth Hospital on February 8, will continue to flow at a memorial service at Bendigo Stadium on Friday at 1.30pm.
It was Brisbane, who was credited with naming the Bendigo Basketball Association’s senior representative teams ‘the Braves’, years before the club had officially been formed in 1981.
Bruce ‘Bruno’ Bennett, who was the Braves’ captain in their inaugural season in the South East Basketball League (later SEABL) and was the first general manager of Bendigo Stadium, lauded Brisbane as a ‘great mentor’.
“He introduced a lot of people to basketball and always assisted where he could with administration,” he said.
“His depths of knowledge across all areas of the sport were phenomenal.
“He was quite a visionary in terms of basketball and very influential throughout Australia.”
It was Brisbane’s role in the formation of Basketball Victoria Country (BVC) – that Bennett considers as his greatest legacy.
“Prior to his time Australian basketball was very state-focused in the capital cities, but Max brought about considerable change in recognising the strengths of particularly Victorian country basketball,” he said.
“As such he was influential in the careers of people like Kristi Harrower, Glen Saville and Mat Campbell, who all came from Bendigo, and ultimately represented Australia.
“He was just a visionary really, someone who was completely passionate about basketball and who got in there and did something about it.
“Initially that was on a voluntary basis, but later it became his profession.”
Forty-three years after playing a leading role in the founding of BVC, together with such names as Jack Terrill (Geelong), Colin Wale (Traralgon), Ken Holt (Swan Hill) and Colin James (Albury), Brisbane retired from the organisation in 2010.
A statement from BVC said Brisbane, who was the organisation’s inaugural secretary in 1967, had left a legacy that future generations would only benefit from.
“One of Max’s legacies will be his provision and development of competitions which includes BVC Country Championships and the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup,” the statement said.
“In May 1986, John Martin and Rex Nottage (Basketball New South Wales), Ted Powell (South Australia Country Basketball) and Max met in Melbourne to discuss how best to conduct a tournament for the champion senior men’s and women’s country teams from each state.
“After a while it became obvious that the direction was wrong and a competition for the best junior teams from each of the country entities was slowly devised.
“The competition was to be called the Australian Country Junior Basketball Cup and this January celebrated 33 years of successful operation.”
Brisbane was awarded life membership of the Cup in 2013.
He also had a long association with Basketball Victoria, including a stint as president, and was awarded life membership in 1988.
His love affair with basketball included a successful coaching stint in the Bendigo Basketball Association, including 10 consecutive title wins with Surfies in the 1960s and 70s.
Brisbane is survived by his wife Heather, daughter Carol and sons Peter and Michael.
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