Thursday, March 23, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
One of Mackay’s largest and longest-running basketball clubs has teamed up with Wests Tigers to ensure the future of the sport in the Pioneer Valley.
Formed in 1981, Renegades Basketball Club is considered one of the big three basketball clubs in the region with 43 men’s and women’s teams from under 8s up to division 1.
The club, however, has never had a base to operate out of, host meetings or run training sessions.
“We’ve been around since 1981 … surviving on backyard patios and meetings at local clubs,” said Renegades President Guy Simpson.
“We’ve never had a home base.”
With the number of basketball teams in Mackay growing by 21% over the last 12 months, facilities are becoming harder to acquire for training purposes.
“The reality is every club in Mackay is struggling to get a venue to bounce a ball on of an afternoon for the kids,” Mr Simpson said.
Meetings with Wests began in early 2022 with the hopes of establishing Renegades as the basketball club of choice for the Pioneer Valley.
“Being a country boy myself, I grew up in Calen, I know what it’s like not to have representation and I reckon the Pioneer Valley’s a great fit for us,” Mr Simpson said.
“Hopefully we can have from under 8s, starting at that level and filtering through, we get enough of that age group that they can even train out here in the valley and save them commuting all the way into town every week.”
The Pioneer Valley has been without a basketball club since Midgets Basketball Club, junior club of Australian basketball coach Sandy Brondello, folded about 15 years ago.
Integral to the Renegades’ plans are the expansion plans of Wests Tigers.
Following the purchase of a neighbouring 25ha cane farm, Wests Tigers are in the process of creating a master expansion plan to enhance the sporting facilities available to the people of the Pioneer Valley.
“It is our club’s vision to provide a sporting complex for as many sports as we can,” said Wests Chairman Brett Leach.
“When I played sport as a young bloke, we all trained at pretty ordinary facilities, and we all travelled.
“When kids look to play sport, they want to see where they’re training and where they’re playing and the more professional that club can be, not only as a club but also the facilities, the more it’ll attract people to the sport.”
The Renegades have been involved in the planning process of Wests’ expansion, which looks to include four outdoor, undercover basketball courts and one indoor court.
“It’s going to be up to us to provide the infrastructure that’s needed for them to be able to play their sport,” said Mr Leach.
“This club can’t afford to do what we’d like to do for our community without the help from local, state and federal governments,” added Wests Director Mick Baker.
“This is about planning for the future of basketball in our region out here in the valley.
“It’s about making sure we get this relationship right now so that in the future it’s a strong bond.”
Wests Tigers are holding a community consultation day on June 17 where anyone involved in Pioneer Valley sport can view the plans and make comments and recommendations.
“At the moment it’s purely a dream, nothing’s locked in,” said Mr Baker.
Renegades Basketball Club are holding a sign-on day at Mirani State School next Wednesday, March 29 from 5:00pm ahead of the President’s Cup Season starting in term 2.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Mackay Basketball finals get underway, 25 of the Renegades’ 43 teams will participate in the finals of the Championship season this weekend at the Mackay Basketball Association.
L-R Rob Cunningham (Renegades Vice President), Guy Simpson (Renegades President), Helen Bartolo (Renegades Life Member), Ian Nicholas (Original Committee Member) Alan Edwards (Life Member and original committee member), Kingsley Theiber (Wests General Manger), Mick Baker (Wests Director) and Brett Leach (Wests Chairman). Photo credit: Sam Gillespie
25 Renegades teams will play finals this weekend. Photos credit: Deanne Woods Photography