Grafton Vikings youth league coach Dion Parbery, left, women's coach Nathan Martin and men's coach Craig Howe are excited about the 2009 basketball season.
Grafton Vikings youth league coach Dion Parbery, left, women's coach Nathan Martin and men's coach Craig Howe are excited about the 2009 basketball season. Terry Deefholts

Vikings hope three's a charm

THE basketball landscape in Grafton is about to change.

Year after year the Vikings' men's senior side travels from hoop to hoop in the Northern NSW State League, but this year senior women's and youth league teams will join the men in the Vikings' stable.

“These three teams will gain recognition for the sport and the club in the Clarence Valley,” Grafton Basketball Association (GBA) president Jan Johnston said.

“It gives us a greater diversity with all the teams pulling together.”

It has been two years since the Vikings have fielded three teams and Johnston said the ever-changing population was the major contributing factor for the absence.

“With the women's team we just can't seem to maintain it ... and we only have the youth league when we have the players,” she said.

“There used to be a lot of pressure for kids to go to uni, but now they are sticking around for another 12 months.”

Vikings men's head coach Craig Howe said it was 'fantastic' the men's squad was now complemented by women's and youth league teams.

“I've got two guys who played in the youth league a couple of years ago and have now made the senior team,” he said.

“The women's team has some good young, talented girls in it ... so they should be competitive.”

Howe said it would be 'hard work' to maintain the three squads, but was excited about the possibilities presented by having three senior teams.

“There is more training, more teams and more bodies,” he said.

“I think it's good for these young players to play youth league as well as against the men ... they get a feel for it (senior competition).”

Unfortunately, the expansion equates to an inevitable cost increase, with the running of the three teams ranging between $15,000 and $20, 000 annually.

However, Johnston said the association was working on innovative ideas to alleviate the financial burden.

“We are trying to make more of the players involved in how the Vikings are run,” she said.

“We have a lot of fundraising coming up.

“We will have a few promotional days where hopefully we will have all three teams playing at the same time.”

The youth league, with its extra travelling expenses, is especially taxing on the purse-strings, but Johnston said the team's existence was necessary for basketball in Grafton to prosper.

“In the youth league there are more nominations than in the state league and it encompasses all of Basketball NSW,” she said.

“(But) it gives our juniors something to aim for and a direction of where to go.”

Johnston said the association was calling on any interested players between the ages of 11-30 to come forward.

“Basketball is fun and enjoyable and you make long life friends,” she said.

For more information contact Johnston on 0407 447 269 or 6644 7269.

“These three teams will gain recognition for the sport and the club in the Clarence Valley”

Jan Johnston


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