Panthers return to ‘The Jungle’

By Jackson Russell

Wallan Basketball is ramping up preparations for the basketball season to get underway at all levels, with COVID-19 restrictions easing across the state.

The club has been granted access to ‘The Jungle’, RB Robson Stadium, for the first time in months after its COVID-safe return to play plan was approved by Mitchell Shire Council.

Under the State Government roadmap, indoor non-contact training or outdoor competition and training could resume for up to 20 players under 18 years from Wednesday, while adults could participate in non-contact training outdoors.

Wallan Basketball president Gary O’Brien said if restrictions continued to ease as planned, the club could start hosting competitive basketball at the end of November.

“We want to get as many people as we can with a ball in their hands so we’re going to open the doors and run some skills for all abilities and all ages and more towards mid-November, we’ll announce some rep-ready sessions for higher-skilled kids looking to join Victorian Junior Basketball League teams to give them a chance before we run tryouts,” he said.

From a senior perspective, the club is hoping a Country Basketball League season could begin in January before a late march tip-off for the Big V season.

The club is also looking into how a senior domestic competition would run under COVID rules but has not set a start date.

O’Brien said while basketball was coming back, it would not look normal.

“We want a normal Big V season and normal VJBL season but that means we’ll have to do some things a little bit differently,” he said.

“We want everyone to have a degree of tolerance and participate in the COVID rules. If we all do this together, we’ll get through it and if it means parents putting up with whatever COVID rules, let’s just do it so we can get the kids on the court playing basketball.”

O’Brien said everyone involved at the club was itching to get back on court.

“The parents have gone crazy so as soon as Dan [Andrews] announces something, my phone starts going off asking when we can open the stadium or kids can take shots,” he said.

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