Vikings charge into new chapter of women's basketball
BASKETBALL: After at least a decade off the courts, Grafton Vikings women are charging back to the forefront of North Coast sport as they break new ground in the Frigid Air Sunshine Conference.
Court veteran Natalie Ballard returned to the hoops last year after a decade off the courts and will now lead the Vikings women in their season-opener against Byron Bay Beez this afternoon.
The women's contest will act as a curtain-raiser for the men's game which tips off from 6.30pm.
The resurgence of women in the sport in Grafton was spearheaded by a group of keen players wanting to open new pathways for the emerging juniors.
"A couple of really keen players in the town wanted to see women's basketball thrive again,” Ballard said.
"We have had a tough time of late getting juniors through, so we are just trying to give them a bit of inspiration and something to look forward to.”
The captain admitted the association had struggled at times to bridge the age gap between players in the team but with a new crop of stars joining the ranks there is potential for development.
"We have picked up a couple of netballers this year, so we are trying to convert them from that mentality, from non-contact sport into basketball,” Ballard said. "I am keen to see how these girls will go.
"They are turning up every week and giving it 100% and I really want to see them develop. If that is the only thing to come out of this season, it will be a successful season.”
With burgeoning juniors Grace Boorman, Alex Dahl and Jade McDonogh flying the flag for basketball in the future, Ballard wants to give them something to aspire to.
"I would love to see basketball, particularly for the women, grow. We have got some great juniors coming through in Grace Boorman and Alex (Dahl), to have them playing in this competition in the years to come would be a really nice thing,” she said. "Hopefully we can keep the dream alive for them and keep the game running for years to come.”
An emerging junior who has risen through the ranks, Dahl, will join the Vikings team for today's season opener.
MATCH DAY: Grafton Vikings host Byron Bay Beez with women's tip-off at 4.30pm followed by men's at 6.30.