Elite NBL coaches share tips at Latrobe Valley clinic

Sports coaches from across Gippsland had a rare opportunity to learn from the best at an elite coaching clinic in Traralgon last night ahead of the NBL’s three-day pre-season Blitz in the Latrobe Valley.

Australian Boomers and Brisbane head coach Andrej Lemanis, Melbourne United head coach Dean Vickerman, Perth Wildcats head coach Trevor Gleeson and Illawarra Hawks head coach Rob Beveridge shared secrets to their success in the free, two-hour clinic at Latrobe Leisure Traralgon Sports Stadium.

Around 120 coaches from around Gippsland and as far afield as Bendigo and Melbourne travelled to the Latrobe Valley last night to learn from the best at the clinic, hosted by Basketball Victoria, the NBL, the Victorian Government and Latrobe City Council.

“I’ve spoken to coaches who’ve come from Marlo and Orbost and I know we’ve got other coaches who have come all the way from Phillip Island, so we’re covering the entire Gippsland area,” the Chair of Basketball Country Victoria, Bill Jeffs, said.

“Usually these opportunities go to much larger centres, so to have it in a smaller regional centre like Traralgon is absolutely fantastic for basketball and particularly for Basketball Victoria Country.”

The NBL coaches put young local athletes through their paces on the court throughout the two-hour clinic, sharing tips as they went.

“We’ve got Dean Vickerman, who’s a former country coach and country player from Warragul, so we have someone who’s made it all that way and can give people an understanding of the pathway from the very beginning of a small association all the way through to NBL,” Mr Jeffs said.

“Some of the kids out there are already on that pathway – they’ve all started at very small associations – so if we can make those coaches more skilled, more knowledgeable, that improves the whole outcome of basketball all the way through.”

The NBL Blitz marks a return to Gippsland for Vickerman, who dreamed of playing basketball in the big league as a child growing up in Warragul. He went on to play with the National Basketball League before forging a stellar career as one of Australia’s top basketball coaches, most recently as head coach of Melbourne United.

The NBL Blitz, in which all eight NBL teams play in a tournament at Traralgon Sports Stadium from September 7 to 9, has been funded through the Victorian Government’s Latrobe Valley Sports and Community Initiative, an $85 million investment in sports and community infrastructure, events and associated support programs.

As well as significant upgrades to local sporting infrastructure, the sports and community initiative forges an alliance between the State Government and elite Melbourne-based sporting clubs to bring major events to Gippsland.

The coaches and teams also are participating in school and community clinics for around 800 local students and clubs in Churchill, Morwell, Warragul, Sale and Traralgon, sharing their skills, forging relationships and building local capacity.