BALLARAT’s two major basketball venues will be bursting at the seams over the next three days for one of the sport’s fastest growing national tournaments.
The Southern Cross Challenge has attracted 34 country and metropolitan under-14 and under-15 teams from Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, and the ACT.
Only Vic Country and Vic Metro contested the inaugural challenge last year.
Basketball Ballarat events manager Mark Valentine said the increase in interest in this tournament had been overwhelming.
“And it will only get bigger,” he said.
Valentine expects New South Wales to get on board next year with the three-day event an integral element of the national pathway program.
Games will utilise four courts at the Minerdome and two at the Wendouree Sports and Events Centre tomorrow, Sunday and Monday.
Valentine said 340 players and up to another 800 team staff, tournament officials and family would begin converging on Ballarat today.
The rapid growth of the tournament again highlights Ballarat’s need for a bigger home for basketball.
Basketball Victoria country manager David Huxtable said with expected growth in this event next year, there was a concern that national tournaments of this stature might out-grow Ballarat’s existing facilities.
“It is important regional areas continue to develop facilities that cater for major events which provide a positive economic impact,” he said.
“I expect the Southern Cross Challenge to leave a legacy for regional basketball with improved opportunities for coaches, players and referees, as well as developing the next generation of volunteers.”
This is the first of two major national basketball events in Ballarat this year, with the Australian girls’ under-16 club championship set down for September 30-October 30.
Southern Cross Challenge
January 19-21 – Minerdome and Wendouree Sport and Events Centre
Boys: Vic Metro (x2), Vic Country (x2), South Australia Metro (x2), ACT
Girls: Vic Metro (x2), Vic Country (x2), SA Metro (x2), ACT
Boys: Vic Metro (x2), Vic Country (x2), SA Metro (x2), SA Country, WA Country, WA Metro, ACT
Girls: Vic Metro (x2), Vic Country (x2), SA Metro (x2), SA Country, WA Country, WA Metro, ACT