Rise again


BRAD COLE  THE ADVOCATE  NWBU women’s coaches Tony Webb and Shane Hayward believe the reintroduction of a North-West Thunder women’s program needs consideration to assist the development of female basketball in the region further.

The Thunder has been a men’s only program for 10 seasons now after the women’s team folded at the end in the lead-up to the 2009 season due to a lack of commitment from players, on top of sponsorship difficulties.

But with a preliminary final-bound Launceston Tornadoes team already containing plenty of North-West talent such as Emma Haywood, Paige French and Ali Partridge, the two grand final coaches said an outlet is needed for more local players to show their wares.

“I think that with the work Basketball Tasmania currently do these days, there is enough room for another team,” said Webb, who coached the Tasmania under 18 team this year.

“You look at both teams that played off in the NWBU grand final last week, there was plenty of local talent on display, then you have the likes of Ulverstone producing plenty of great local players as well – they can’t all go and play for the Tornadoes.

“I’m not sure how it all works in terms of how many SEABL licences are allowed in Tasmania, but in an ideal world, it would be great for our kids to have a program to aim for here on the North-West Coast. 

“I was going to wait for the Thunder season to finish and have a meeting with (chairman) Tony Barker to see what he says and if it could go ahead. 

“I have a daughter myself and would like her to have a stepping stone to help her get to the top instead of going to Launceston to play and it’s something I would happy to be involved in to try and get it back on track.”

After hearing Webb state his case for the return of a Thunder women’s team at the NWBU annual dinner last Friday night, Hayward was also keen to get involved in early discussions.

“I messaged Tony afterwards and told him that if you get to talk to someone, I’d love to be a part of it,” the Penguin coach said.

“I’m definitely keen to see it back, especially having daughters of my own that are trying to play at a higher level, and if we had a SEABL program on the Coast they would be a part of it now.”

Like Webb, Hayward said talent wasn’t the issue, but was concerned of the effects it could have on the Tornadoes.

“I think the local playing stocks are certainly there, especially with the amount that have played with the Tornadoes lately,” he said.

“Undoubtedly the North-West still has the best senior competition in Tasmania – you only had to look at the bums on seats at the grand final last Tuesday night and they were both quality games despite the score blowing out a bit in the women’s game towards the end.

“With the pathways at the moment, and it sounds like it in the past it was only a matter of dollars, I believe it would be more than competitive, but I’m not sure what that would do to the Tornadoes program.

“But if we could give the kids something to aspire to on the Coast it would be huge.”