In 1964, two Perth-based University basketball teammates hatched an idea that would forever change the face of WA basketball.
Bob Symons and Peter Simper believed that for basketball to grow, it was vital to create a well organised junior development program that fed into a successful senior team.
The long term goal was to have a club that set the standard in WA with community involvement, effective development pathways and a genuine family atmosphere – a family that took its basketball very seriously. Titles and Grand Final appearances featured prominently over the next 47 years with the Perth Redbacks securing back to back men’s titles in 1972/73, 1976/77 and 1989/90. Those have sat nicely with four ‘standalone’ championships: two in the 60s, another in 1997 and then the most recent title in 2018. The women’s program has seen titles in 1975, 1989 and 2000.
As the club went from strength to strength its success produced a bottleneck of talented juniors feeding into the A Grade team, eventually forcing the formation of a breakaway club in 1972, the Stirling Senators.
In 56 years (and counting) the list of names produced by the Redbacks philosophy of junior development is long and impressive. Many have gone on to perform in the Australian NBL, while one became a three-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls.
The tradition begun by names like Eddie and Brad Cecins, Ian Frame, Andrew Lewis and Craig Evans, was carried over by two of the sport’s most iconic names in Andrew Vlahov and Luc Longley. A new generation saw the successful rise to the NBL of Matthew Earp, Jamie Baker, Nik Lackovic and Paul Pochintesta. More recent years saw four young products of the Redbacks’ junior system gain Perth Wildcats selection in Joel Wagner, Jarrad Prior, Michael Vigor and Robert Cassir.
56 years ago a seed was planted. Hard work, the commitment of countless volunteers and an unwavering dedication to junior and community development have produced a club which proudly and successfully proclaims: Family, Community, Basketball.