“This is huge.”
There’s no other way for Orange Eagles representative coordinator Craig Harvey to explain the impact the launch of a senior men’s representative side on basketball in the city.
After the Eagles nearly doubled their participation numbers over the past two years, the Orange Basketball Association was given the all-clear from Basketball NSW to take the next step and provide top-level talent the chance to ply their trade against the best in the state.
Orange’s best and brightest basketball lights have had to play in Bathurst with the Goldminers to have a chance to compete in the statewide competition, but for the first time in over three decades they will be able to light up their home court.
“It’s been 30 or 40 years since something like this has happened in Orange,” he said.
To have somewhere to go on is only going to help our juniors.Craig Harvey
Harvey said former NBL player Mitch Selwood would play a key role by donning an Eagles top in 2019, and he also expected five or six Goldminers players based in Orange to make the switch back home.
That includes the possibility of Matt Gray lining up for Orange instead of Bathurst on the college prodigy’s breaks from Drake University after spending much of his junior career with the Goldminers.
“I did speak to a few of them before we launched it to get expressions of interest,” he said.
“I haven’t spoken to Matt [Gray] directly, I’ll get in touch with his dad and hopefully we’ll be able to see him play for us.”
Harvey said the club had requested two men’s sides but had been granted just the one, with the hope of a women’s team to follow in the next year or two.
Basketball stalwart Paul Masters has been one of those at the forefront of the effort, alongside son-in-law Keiran Purvis, and Harvey said the pair – as well as the committee and the board – had put in an “incredible” amount of effort into the process.
There’s still a lot more work to come to get the team off the ground, with building a referee program and finding sponsors, players, coaches, court-side officials and more, but Harvey is confident the Eagles will be on the court in 2019.
“We’re hoping to play games at the PCYC on a Saturday afternoon. The netball is normally finished about 5pm and we’d hopefully be able to play from 6pm,” he said.
“It’s all yet to be confirmed with the PCYC.”
He said it would provide an important pathway for the club’s growing number of juniors.
“The numbers have doubled over the past 18 months, we’ve submitted 11 representative teams to the Waratah Junior League in February and have coaches and assistant coaches for every team – sometimes more than one of each,” he said.
“To have somewhere to go on is only going to help our juniors.”
The Eagles’ senior side has expressions of interest open for players, officials and umpires. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
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