The appearance of the Australian Defence Force will provide an added edge in the top divisions at the annual Ballarat Basketball senior tournament this weekend.
The ADF, made up of army, navy and air force representatives, is one of nine teams in the men’s premier division, which also includes the Ballarat Miners’ Big V youth squad.
The ADF is also playing in women’s A grade, where it will meet the likes of Ballarat Rush’s Big V youth championship combination.
Tournament manager Mark Valentine said all rival teams were curious about the ability of the ADF – teams selected from a national carnival.
He said while the teams did not play in a regular league, they had players with experience in top competitions around the country.
Valentine said the ADF’s level of fitness might be decisive.
The ADF gave a glimpse of its form in practice games against Ballarat Miners and Rush at Ballarat Grammar School on Thursday.
The visiting players also led a junior clinic.
This is the 50th running of the annual Labour Day long weekend tournament, with the first played at a new two-court facility Peace Stadium, now known as the Minerdome.
Valentine said it would have taken a brave person at the time to boast that the event would still be going strong 50 years later.
The three-day event, which begins on Saturday, has this year attracted 65 teams across nine divisions.
Valentine said as had been the case for many teams competing in the tournament over the years the weekend was more about the social aspects of the event rather than the cash prizes.
He said some teams had been competing regularly for 20 years or more.
“Players treat the weekend as a reunion and a chance to catch up with former teammates.”
Games at the Minerdome and Wendouree Sports and Events Centre on Saturday and Sunday begin at 9.30am
Finals on Monday start at 11am.