By Oliver Lees
Basketball is back in Romsey.
Following a hiatus of more than 10 years, the Romsey Basketball Association (RBA) has returned, with the popularity of junior teams and development courses growing quickly since welcoming players back on January 15.
The RBA’s new president Simon Liebelt has been involved in basketball in the Macedon Ranges as a player or coach since he was five years old.
He said the idea to reestablish the association came to him after identifying a dearth of options for kids in the area.
“[There’s] a gap in our region and it’s a big growth corridor,” Liebelt said, who grew up in Ashbourne.
“It was really just about giving kids an opportunity to play in the area.
“We now have over 60 members, when previously the record for Romsey was 50, so to be over that in just four months is fantastic.”
With 27 years of coaching under his belt, the idea had been on his mind for some time.
But after having positive conversations with Basketball Victoria in 2019, Liebelt said those plans “fell flat” as the coronavirus ground local sport to a halt.
Things picked up again in November last year and by that time Liebelt was convinced it was what the area needed.
“If we’re gonna do it, let’s do it properly, and It was a very quick process from there.”
The RBA now runs a three player per side competition and a Aussie Hoops workshop out of the Romsey Recreation Centre on Park Lane with the help of a committee of 12 members.
In searching for an official nickname for their representative side, Leibelt said it was one of the committee members that suggested paying homage to the history of their home court.
“The stadium is actually built on the Burke and Wills track,” he said, referring to the famous explorers that trekked across Victoria in the 19th century.
“So that’s why we’re called the Trailblazers.”
The RBA joins the Macedon Ranges Basketball Association and other indoor sports teams contesting for a limited number of courts in the area.
With two training sessions booked each week, Liebelt said the RBA is now “scrambling” to find a venue to house a prospective under-16’s team.
A need for additional sports facilities in the area was identified during the Macedon Ranges council’s leisure strategy and indoor sports courts feasibility study, which took place from 2006 to 2009.
Last week, Star Weekly reported that a further $3.2 million had been committed to building a regional sports hub in the Macedon Ranges.
Liebelt said he would “absolutely love” to use the hub to connect the RBA with other clubs and associations in the area.
“It would be really good to get a domestic competition with all the local teams together” he said.
“I just love seeing the kids try and fail, but when they finally get it, you can see the happy look on their faces.
“It’s all about giving kids opportunities. If we can give a pathway to a kid that loves the game, you never know where they can go.”
For more information contact Simon on 0409 164 564 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.