RIGHT now Guy Molloy has the New Zealand women’s basketball team camped in Melbourne to step-up Kiwi Commonwealth Games preparations.
And it is hard for Ballarat to not be excited about this.
The former Ballarat Miners coach was publicly named Tall Ferns head coach on Tuesday.
Molloy becomes the fourth Miners coach at the helm of international open-age team.This is an incredible result for the Miners, who will also have former assistant coach Andrej Lemanis leading the Australian Boomers into the Commonwealth Games.
Brian Goorjian held the Boomers role from 2001-2008 with Miners championship coach Brendan Joyce as his Boomers assistant. Joyce was the Australian Opals coach and led the entire Australian women’s elite talent program until a year ago.
While cheering the Tall Ferns, or at least showing some interest, might seem unpatriotic, we should be championing Molloy’s move.
Such an international roll call from a regional basketball program really says a lot about what we offer at the Minerdome: a pathway.
The city’s pathways to elite sports tend to be lauded in terms of players. Molloy, who was an Opals assistant coach before his Miners days, is a reminder our marquee sports offer experience and opportunity to more than just our players.
Nathan Cooper-Brown is working as an assistant coach for the Emus, Australia’s under-17 men’s team, while preparing to step up in his first season as Miners head coach. It is a juggle Molloy knows too well – he led the Emus to world championship action, including a silver medal – in his Miners’ coaching tenure.
Plus there are the likes of former Miners’ star Eric Cooks, a long-time assistant at National Basketball League club Illawarra Hawks, or championship coach Al Westover at Melbourne Tigers and the Australian College of Basketball.
Just like players, it is important to let coaches go – even in-season – in a bid to take their game to the highest levels. No matter how hard.
To know their learning in Ballarat has played a role in their development is important. Coaches like Joyce and Molloy have continued to check in and give back to the Ballarat basketball communities since their departures.
You can see this trend strong in our football too.
Two Ballarat exports have been promoted to head coaching roes in the Victorian Football League this season: Dan Jordan, a former East Point captain and coach at Essendon; and, former North Ballarat Rebels coach David Loader for the new North Melbourne arm.
Former Redan coach Eamonn Gill is a line coach with Geelong’s VFL team. Western Bulldogs football general manager Chris Maple, also a Rebels product, was the club’s inaugural VFL Footscray coach in 2014.
We might not have our own VFL team anymore but already Jordan, Loader and Gill have reached out to promising Ballarat talent.
Knowledge, exposure and skills sharing is vital to keep evolving and improving grassroots sport. Coaches are a huge part of this.
That should definitely give you something to cheer the Tall Ferns about.