By Steph McNicol
IT has been more than 10 years since the final siren last sounded for Romsey Basketball, but new club president Simon Liebelt says he is up for the challenge of building the club from the ground back up.
With little information available surrounding the history of the club, Mr Liebelt contacted Basketball Victoria and Macedon Ranges Shire Council for an insight into the journey he was about to embark on.
“I spoke to Basketball Victoria, which is the governing body for basketball in the state, just to find out an estimated date of when the club was last active,” the president said.
“They said, ‘we couldn’t tell you’, but they know it’s been at least 10 years the club’s been dormant, maybe longer.
“I don’t know much of the history of the basketball in Romsey, but at some stage they must have done something – a member registry or something.
“I don’t think there was ever more than 50 members a year. The council did run some basketball programs like a shooting hoops program, which was an under 13s competition, but come October last year, COVID had a big part to play.
“They could no longer run the program, they reached out to myself and some others to ask if we could take over. I said to the others, ‘if we’re going to do this, let’s do it properly and relaunch’.”
Liebelt is part of a committee of 12, a group he said were professional and had good experience with basketball.
Since his election as president on January 12, Mr Liebelt has worked with the committee to gather interest in an Aussie Hoops program which already has 24 members.
“We’re already nearly halfway through completing what [the club] had in the past. The competitions only start in winter, but with the amount of interest we’ve had we thought why not start now,” he said.
“My background in basketball is coaching females, so to see girls engaging is exciting, and we hope to get a 14 and under competition going.
“I’m getting about five or six phone calls a week from people wanting to know what’s going on, and we’re talking with other [clubs] to see how we can work with them – our hub hasn’t been built yet.
“We currently have a one court stadium in Romsey on Park Lane. It’s difficult in Macedon, but we’re aiming to put Romsey’s name on the map.”
But with no equipment – the club hasn’t even got any basketballs yet – the committee plans to build from the ground up.
“We’ve got five to eight-year-olds who have never played before, but we’ve got long term plans listed, including a Big V team,” Liebelt said.
“It would be amazing if we could build something substantial where a five-year-old who’s just starting prep wants to learn to play, we’re building a pathway for them to go to college.”
Liebelt said the club was still in early stages, but he felt positive.
“At the moment we’ve only got one session a week … court hire became a bit of an issue. We’re talking to sponsors and council trying to get grants,” he said.
“We’ve got Aussie Hoops at the moment for six to eight-year-olds, but we’ve also got five and 10-year-olds playing there, so it’s just a matter of the interest people show.
“We’ve got older kids on a list, just because we can’t offer them a game just yet. Our next step will be opening up a competition, because we’ve got a bout 25 to 30 athletes ready to go.
“They don’t have to be advanced to join, the idea is that we’ll train them, and in the end hopefully they’ll feel ready to play.”
Liebelt said the competitions they entered or trained for were fully dependent on the interest expressed by the community.
“We’ve got an all abilities program … if you have a child with a disability who wants to play, we already have coaches in place,” Liebelt said.
“We want to build an all-inclusive association, and we love diversity. Our Aussie Hoops coaches have a big range, starting with myself who coached Big V level for over 12 years, and then we have 14 and 16-year-olds coaching representative programs for the last few years.”
People interested in joining Romsey Basketball Club, no matter their age or ability, can contact Simon Liebelt by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.