The best and brightest basketballers of the WNBL are charging into Gippsland thanks to a new partnership between the ‘Deakin Melbourne Boomers’ and the Victorian Government.
Australian Opals Jenna O’Hea, Steph Talbot and Cayla George, along with newly signed Latrobe Valley talents Chelsea D’Angelo and Jaz Shelley, headline a host of hoop-stars who’ll make the region their home away from home for the next two years.
The Boomers will help develop Gippsland basketball clubs with junior clinics, open trainings days, coach-the-coaches sessions and sports management and marketing training, plus shake the room in a three-game pre-season carnival, playing games in Warragul, Traralgon and Sale over four days.
Boomers general manager Justin Nelson said the club was keen to hold court in Gippsland’s rapidly growing sporting calendar, starting with the inaugural WNBL Triple Crown competition against Bendigo Spirit this September.
“Gippsland is an incredibly rich region for all sports, in particular basketball and we can’t wait to help promote participation across the community via our player, coach and management visits over the next three years,” Mr Nelson said.
“Chelsea D’Angelo is a world-class junior from Traralgon and has just signed with us for the next four years, our captain Jenna O’Hea is one of Australia’s very best players and also comes from Traralgon, Jaz Shelley is from Moe and has just joined us while many budding young players continue to develop their skills across dozens of basketball clubs throughout the Latrobe Valley.
“We also plan on adding at least three rising Gippsland-based players to our Boomers team for the Triple Crown event and give them a taste of life with a WNBL club.
“For the Boomers, our ability to have our elite level athletes connect with the community is a key focus and we envisage young players and families in the Latrobe Valley becoming valuable members of the Boomers family, especially when we come to Gippsland for pre-season games each year.”
Ms Cain said the partnership would build on the basketball buzz in the region, hot off the heels of the successful NBL Blitz pre-season competition staged in Traralgon late last year.
“The recent NBL Blitz showed the enthusiasm of the Gippsland community for basketball, and involvement of the ‘Melbourne Boomers’ presents an opportunity to build further on that success,” Ms Cain said.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the Boomers to our sporting alliance roster, alongside the likes of Collingwood Football Netball Club and the Melbourne Stars.
“LVA has invested $6.9 million over five years to boost the local sporting landscape and visitor economy with a range of major events and initiatives, and we’re committed to facilitating the region’s continued growth across the board.”
The partnership will also feature a host of community engagement activities across the region, with the Boomers to visit Traralgon, Moe, Churchill, Morwell, Maffra, Warragul and Sale in addition to their Gippsland games.
The two-year partnership has been forged as part of the Victorian Government’s $85 million Latrobe Valley Sports and Community Initiative.