A basketball bonanza will blaze into Gippsland when the Melbourne Boomers play three games over four days against Bendigo Spirit in September for the region’s inaugural WNBL Triple Crown tournament.
Boomers General Manager Justin Nelson announced the dates and locations of the upcoming clashes today at Drouin amid a series of free July school holiday clinics the WNBL franchise staged across the region this week.
Boomers players and Traralgon locals Chelsea D’Angelo and newly signed Jade Melbourne joined Monique Conti to host the holiday sessions across two action packed days.
Some 270 young girls aged 8 to 14 attended clinics in Maffra, Moe and Drouin and more than 50 people hit the courts for an Indigenous community session with the club supported by Kurnai Nations.
Nelson said the Boomers were committed to growing the club’s already strong link to Gippsland and bolstering the development pathway through these types of community engagement activities.
“You want them (the children) to get out on the court and just really enjoy being there but then connecting with their role models, the likes of Monique Conti, Jade Melbourne who’s just signed for the Boomers, Chelsea D’Angelo from Traralgon, just the chance to rub shoulders with those girls and for the young ones to look up to them and see they can also make the elite level,” he said.
“It’s quite unique at the Boomers in that we’ve got four of our players who come from Gippsland, three from Traralgon (D’Angelo, Melbourne and captain Jenna O’Hea) and one from Moe (Jaz Shelley), it’s got to be one of the most productive regions for elite level female basketball , it’s quite unbelievable.
“Gippsland is definitely a big part of our region and we will be down here for a long time to come looking for the next crop of basketballers because they’re definitely out there.”
Now in her third WNBL season, point guard D’Angelo said she was excited to bring the Boomers buzz back home.
“It’s absolutely amazing, growing up here I played basketball locally until I was 18… so it’s just great to be able to put on a show for my home town, my family, my friends, everyone it’s definitely an opportunity I’ve never had before,” she said.
“My family and friends always hear about these things I’m doing but they never get to experience it because we live so far away, so it’s just a great experience for them to see and just everyone I’ve grown up around to experience what we experience every week.”
The three-year partnership with the Boomers has been forged as part of the Victorian Government’s $85 million sports and community package.
Latrobe Valley Authority CEO Karen Cain said it was exciting to bring an event of this calibre to three local government areas.
“This tournament is a tremendous example of collaboration between our local shires to bring shared benefit to our region at large,” Ms Cain said.
“We’re excited to help facilitate this fantastic event with the Boomers and ensure accessibility for our communities right across greater Gippsland.”
Game one will be held at the Traralgon Sports Stadium at 7pm on Thursday 13 September, game two at the Maffra Basketball Stadium from 7pm the following night with Warragul Leisure Centre hosting the final showdown on Sunday 16 September at 1pm.
The tour will also feature a host of community activities, including school visits, junior clinics, Aussie hoops sessions, open trainings, fan signings and photo opportunities across Baw Baw, Latrobe City and Wellington shires.
For more information visit the Boomers website.