She’s been playing SBL since she was 15 for the South West Slammers so it was exciting to welcome Raya Thompson to the Perth Redbacks in 2019 when she relocated to Perth for university. Given 2020 saw her sidelined for the West Coast Classic by a torn meniscus, we loved seeing Raya back on the court in Redbacks colours in the pre-season game last weekend against Willetton. And we’re thrilled to confirm her signing for NBL1 2021.
What brought Raya to Perth Redbacks in the first place?
“Other than relocating from Bunbury to Perth for uni commitments, it was mostly the coaching staff that led to my decision to play for the Redbacks. I played under Craig Allen in both of my Under 20s Nationals years and loved it. Playing under Craig again, I knew that I’d be provided with the best support and opportunities for my first season back after injury.
I have so much respect for Craig as a coach and a person. I think he does a really good job with this group and I’m really excited to put it all into action once the season starts.”
Craig for his part is similarly excited to have Raya in the team:
“Raya has overcome a knee injury which has kept her out for a couple of years and it’s been great to see her moving so well in the preseason. My hope is this year will be a just reward for all the hard work and persistence she has shown in getting back on court. From a team point of view, it’s awesome to have Raya joining us for the quality and depth she brings to our guard rotation plus she is great defensively and a very smart player. I’ve coached Raya previously at Nationals and know she will complement the strengths of our group and be a great addition to our squad.”
NBL1 Director Nathan Barns has been impressed by what he’s seen:
“We are extremely thrilled to have Raya back at the Redbacks. It is great to see her back on the court and from what we have seen at training and in the scratch matches, the wait has been worth it! A true professional, you can see the determination in Raya’s eyes when she is preparing for a game. Off the court, Raya is such a great person and just fits in so well into our team. I can’t wait to see her on court in NBL1 running around in a Redbacks singlet.”
What’s Raya most hoping for in 2021?
“It’s been a long time since I’ve played in the SBL finals, so no doubt it’s a team goal of mine for the Redbacks to make it to the NBL1 finals this season. But mostly I’m looking to use this season to develop my own game and skills again. I’d love to be more of an offensive playmaker and create options for others to score.”