Junior representative basketball marks its return to regional Victoria this weekend for the annual Bendigo Fur Life Vet Junior Classic.
195 teams will compete at the tournament over three days, starting from 8am on Saturday at venues across the city.
"It's exciting to have this event up and running,'' Bendigo Basketball Association president Martin Spottiswood said.
"We're the first tournament regionally for the year and this is the first tournament this size to be offered regionally.
"After the year we had in 2020, it's great to have the kids back on the court playing basketball."
Of those 195 teams, the Bendigo Junior Braves will field 20 teams across all age groups.
"The Junior Braves are very excited,'' Spottiswood said.
"I was at training last night and you could see the excitement in the groups.
"The teams had their try-outs in early December, so this tournament is their first hit-out for the season."
Across the weekend the Junior Braves will pay tribute to club legend Steve Kelly, who passed away in October.
All junior Braves teams will wear black armbands as a mark of respect for Kelly, who worked tirelessly for the club on and off the court for four decades.
Spottiswood said the BBA has strict COVID-19 protocols to work under this weekend.
"The recommendation is that one person/guardian per player can attend the games,'' Spottiswood said.
"The complication we have is that we are only allowed 1000 people in the stadium at any one time.
"So what we're going to need to do is move everyone out of the stadium before we allow the next group in for the next game.
"Because we're classified as an indoor event we're in the same group as supermarkets, so everyone who is spectating will need to wear masks.
"We've reduced game times from 20-minute halves to 18 -minute halves and we've extended the time allowed for matches from 50 minutes to an hour.
"We've given ourselves roughly 13 minutes at the end of each lot of games to clear the stadium.
"It's a lot of work, and it creates some headaches, but we're confident we can do it to get all the games played."
Preliminary round matches are played Saturday and Sunday, with grand finals scheduled for Monday afternoon.
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