PRODUCING quality senior basketball and having strong SBL teams is working well for the Perth Redbacks, but the club is also committed to growing the club in all areas and that’s where the progress made in 2019 has been so exciting.
If you take a look at what’s happening at SBL level and on the women’s side of things they remain in the playoff hunt and it’s a team led by Perth Lynx WNBL and Australian Opals star Lauren Mansfield.
The Redbacks Women’s team also includes one of the most exciting young players in the country in Nes’eya Williams while there’s a good blend of experience and young with Jess Jakens, Rosie Deegan, Jess Hughes, Denielle Lipscombe, Alex Hayward and Pearl Coppin.
Then with the Redbacks men’s team, they won a championship as recently as 2017 and this group in 2019 is clearly showing exciting signs for the future with the emergence of Zac Gattorna and Majier Garang while Marshall Nelson is fresh off a full-time NBL contract and could be about to earn another.
Then with the group led by the SBL all-time assists leader Joel Wagner and with fellow promising youngsters Ethan Vlahov, Lachlan Forrest, Ronan Coppin, Dylan Vilardi, Derek Igbenoba and Lachlan Bertram all showing good signs moving forward.
So at SBL level, things are ticking along nicely for the Redbacks but the club is about much more than just the top of the tree and the focus more than ever is on the grassroots level of the Perth Basketball Association and making it stronger than it ever has been before.
There has already been some exciting progress made it too and the signs are that the participation numbers and the talented created through the pathway is only going to continue to grow with the more resources the club dedicates to it.
With the Aussie Hopes programs run in the Perth Basketball Association, the growth has been particularly impressive with a 67 per cent rise in participation from Semester 1 last year to the numbers in 2019.
Then in terms of the participation levels in domestic basketball throughout the association, this past 2018/19 summer was the first time ever that the club had a girls and boys only competition held.
The success and popularity of that saw the expansion of Victoria Park into a combined Victoria Park and Belmont competition to cater for the growth in player and team numbers participating.
In line with the growth the Perth Basketball Association is experiencing and has outlined to continue ensure happens, for the first time in 2019 that has seen the appointment of a Director of Coaching who works on a three-day a week arrangement.
That appointment was made in conjunction with the signing of the Women’s SBL coach for 2019 as well so Craig Allen is fulfilling both roles at the Redbacks and is doing a tremendous job.
Allen has had a long involvement at Willetton previously both in coaching and development roles, and he is excited by the vision the Redbacks have for the whole association and is glad to be at the forefront of it in his first year with the club.
“As the development coach at the club my job is to help develop and create a culture within the whole association, and the coaches of the club and to foster the development of coaches within the club,” Allen said.
“Player development comes into my role too, but obviously my main role is to help offer some direction for the coaches and hopefully show them the ways I think they should be developing and dealing with the players.
“It’s a challenging role but it’s one that I think has a lot of scope to work with and there’s a really committed group of people around the Redbacks. It’s really wonderful to be working in that environment and to be working them to, and challenge their development to progress things going forward.
“I know the club has a big picture of where they want to get to and what they want to build, and it’s just really nice to be part of that future development of the culture of the entire club. It’s not just about developing skills, but it’s about culture development and I think that’s really important.”
Coming from such a strong organisation like Willetton who have participation numbers and development programs in place the envy of most in the country, Allen has no doubt he will bring plenty from what he learned there to the Redbacks.
But it’s also important to adapt to work with what’s different about each association and the demographics you work with, so he is looking forward to continuing to learn what ways he can help out the Redbacks the best moving forward from the grassroots levels up.
“Willetton are an awesomely success club from the junior ranks right the way up through but we’re a different club and with our participation numbers that are on the increase, we’re still a very small club in comparison with regards to numbers,” Allen said.
“There’s some awesome stuff I picked up from there that I bring across and having spent 20 years there there’s lot of learning that happened in that time which I can’t ignore, and I do bring with me.
“But again you have to adapt to the situations you’re in and be conscious of where we are at as a club and work within those parameters.”