Sport

Ipswich basketball bouncing back in style

FAST PROGRESS: Ipswich Force basketballer Jason Ralph is one of the talented players to come through the city’s program.
FAST PROGRESS: Ipswich Force basketballer Jason Ralph is one of the talented players to come through the city’s program. Claudia Baxter

WINNING state association of the year proved Ipswich basketball officials and volunteers can rise above adversity to succeed.

Two years after the devastating floods, the sport's future is reaching new heights.

"The fruits of hard work have come through," association president Neil Coupland said.

"We've probably had one of our better years.

"We won a state championship with the under-16 boys and the men made the semi-final of the state league.

"In the last 10 or 15 years, it was our best result for our men and women, both to get right up there."

However, as Ipswich Force coaches Andrew Summerville and Brad George prepare to assemble their squads in the new year, Coupland is focused on another expansion plan.

He's chasing grants to help the Ipswich Basketball Association establish two new competition standard courts at its Booval headquarters.

"It's more than a dream," Coupland said.

"It's something that's going to be needed.

"At this point within the state and the federal political arena, it's probably a pipedream in the next 12 months.

"But who knows, we might get some promises when they start to go into election mode federally.

"Once the state government get their coffers in order, maybe there's some more money to be had there."

Ipswich basketball officials and volunteers have successfully hosted state junior championships for a number of years.

But only having three full-sized courts at Ipswich's main stadium has meant some games have been moved to Bremer State High School.

Coupland would like to see Ipswich Basketball able to host major events at one centralised venue.

"All the state championships have got too big where our three courts are not enough," Coupland said.

"Last year we had to use Bremer so that's something we've got to look to try and do, maybe lobby governments to try to get another court, or another two courts built where we are.

"We have enough room. The problem we have is the fact we own the land, we own the stadium. It is a great asset to us but it is also a hindrance when it comes to lobbying for government money."

Coupland said building two more show courts would be ideal for Ipswich to make the Booval stadium a more versatile indoor complex.

The IBA president said additional courts would create more sporting opportunities in indoor soccer and indoor netball.

While that ambition is pursued, Coupland said the short-term focus was rebuilding Ipswich Force senior teams for next season.

Summerville is the new men's state league coach, replacing Olympic great Shane Heal.

Newly-married George has been secured for a third QBL season with the Ipswich women.

Coupland expects both teams to lose some players next season.

Ipswich stalwart Ryan Stolberg is one of those after he retired from state league competition.

Coupland said it was a case of wait and see if Force players like national league regulars Emma Langford and Nadeen Payne return.

"We're hopeful that things will get bigger for the women but every year it becomes more and more difficult," Coupland said.

However, he was confident the Force program was capable of attracting quality players or rebuilding after this year's pleasing performances.

"You start off with some players that you give the opportunity to and then as they get better known, a lot of other people want them," he said.

"It makes it harder to retain those people.

"Hopefully by the end of January, that should all be sorted.

"It (the Ipswich program) is a good environment. We had a lot of fun this year."

The 2013 QBL season is scheduled to start in May.

The state under-14 championships being hosted by Ipswich are from April 10-13.

Topics:  ipswich basketball association, ipswich force


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