MARQUEE Ballarat sporting teams take note.
Keep investing in emerging sporting talent.
To compete in tough state and national leagues, teams must look to bolster their ranks.
If there is a lesson to be learned in Australian Opal Rachel Jarry's rise in the game, it is how important this city can be in launching sporting careers.Jarry arrived at the Minerdome in the formulative stages of her open-age basketball career.
She joined Ballarat Lady Miners in the South East Australian Basketball League to help the team and to help her own development.Since leaving the Minerdome, forced on the sidelines with a knee injury in 2011, Jarry became a starter and championship player for Bulleen Boomers and an all-star player in the WNBL.Yesterday, she became a WNBA championship player in the United States in her rookie year with Minnesota Lynx.
Unearthing quality talent can be tough and often time consuming.
But if the choice comes to securing a promising young import or a retiring star, go with the young gun.
Good, established recruits have their good points - they bring experience from elite levels and an added buzz (just look at AFL off-cut Brendan Fevola's impact in one game with Bacchus Marsh in the Ballarat Football League this year).
Junior players can learn so much from playing alongside and against experience.Emerging players working hard to climb sporting ranks, however, take more confidence in knowing they are following pathways of those at the top - not those who have been put out to pasture.
The Minerdome, while not Jarry's junior basketball home - that was the Altona Gators - but it is where her career took off.Ballarat teams can be lucky.Being a two university town means that players sometimes fall into their lap.
Mostly, Ballarat teams launch careers by sourcing talent from the extended region.It is a practice evident also evident in the Ballarat Miners, who sent three players from their 2012 program into National Basketball League ranks including Horsham-bred guard Shaun Bruce who now has a full contract with Cairns Taipans.
It is a successful practice with North Ballarat Roosters, whose recruiting is based on promising footballers to mould rather than those bowing out from AFL ranks.In the past three years have unearthed talent like Isaac Smith (via Redan) who is now a Hawthorn premiership player, and Otways wingman Dean Towers, who earned VFL accolades on his way to being rookied by Sydney Swans.
It is sure to become practice with Ballarat Red Devils should secure a license in Football Federation Australia's new state-based National Premier Leagues.While finals, and ultimately premierships, are the key markers for success, Ballarat's state level teams in basketball, football, netball, soccer and hockey are pathways for talented players.Help and develop players along the way and other promising athletes will soon realise Ballarat sport is a place to be seen.
And it will make the talented athletes Ballarat has got, want to stay rather than further their games elsewhere.
This can only make Ballarat sport, and homegrown athletes, stay ahead of the game.