Check out Ipswich's fastest growing association
WINNING a state award is an achievement any regional sporting organisation would cherish.
But when it's for being the fastest growing association in Queensland, that's something to be particularly proud of.
Ipswich Basketball Association president Jon Simpson praised his dedicated management and junior committees for their efforts in bolstering player numbers last year.
IBA received the recognition at last weekend's Basketball Queensland awards function at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
"The award for the fastest growing association was as a result of the hard work of our key committees, of which I chair,'' Simpson said.
Basketball Queensland acknowledged the association that had the greatest growth in registered players.
IBA last year achieved an increase of 295 players, an impressive 32 per cent growth rate compared to 2016.
Ipswich beat the other finalists Northside, North Gold Coast and Southern Districts.
The Ipswich asosciation was also named a finalist for state association of the year.
Capping the night was a special acknowledgement for long-serving Ipswich basketball coach, official and volunteer Terry Lindeberg.
He received a Service to Basketball award.
Among key contributors to Ipswich's fastest growing association success were people on the management and junior committees.
Joining Simpson on the management committee were vice-president Chris Riches, treasurer Brooke Norgrove, secretary Megan Brockhurst, past president Julie George, referees co-ordinator Jeff Jared and Ben Duffield (member).
They worked closely with the junior committee including Simpson (representing the association and Swifts-Comets), Lindeberg (Easts), Char Notoa (Brumbies), Carolyn Cluderay (Brothers), Megan Brockhurst (Mt Crosby) and Duffield (former chairman).
Simpson said the major growth in junior numbers came in the boys under 13 and under 15 competitions.
He said the association had 17 more teams "than we'd ever had in the past''.
"We've got a really good competition going and now those boys have progressed to under 17,'' he said.
"Now in under 17, we've got a record number of teams (15) competing this year. That's about 140 boys in one age division.''
Simpson said the priority was "making sure basketball was good fun and the young players experience a great sport''.
He said the IBA encouraged better players to develop their skills and follow Ipswich's pathway to the state league.
Simpson said other initiatives were boosting the association's growth.
An elite High Fliers competition, backed by IBA's major partner Llewellyn Motors, is promoting women's players.
The "aspirational league'' was launched in Easter after Simpson contacted a number of under 18 players inviting them to trial for the competition.
"The idea of calling it the High Fliers is that these are the girls who are at an elite level where they have the chance to progress through to SBL and QBL and beyond,'' he said.
Ipswich Force products Kate Head, Loie Webb and Grace George have already attracted attention from US colleges offering junior scholarships.
The four elite teams are being guided by assistant QBL coaches Lindeberg and Notoa, respected mentor Calvin Hegvold and Ipswich Force American import Amanda "AJ'' Johnson. She has experience coaching in the American college system.
The IBA president said plans were already underway to strengthen the next Women's High Fliers competition set to start in October.
The teams will wear coloured singlets featuring Llewellyn Motors' four major franchises - Holden, Toyota, Hyundai and Subaru.
Buoyed by the Basketball Queensland recognition, Simpson said his dedicated committee was focused on providing sport for everyone from social players to elite competition.
"The challenge for us is to build our association so we cater all kids, at all levels,'' said Simpson, who was a former principal at Collingwood Park State School for 25 years.
"We need to provide the competition that will foster that.''
IBA's operations manager Sean Fernance has been busy promoting the programs since he took over earlier this year.
Ipswich Force state league head coaches Riches and Brad George have actively promoted youth talent in their sides this season.