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ON THE BALL: Ryan Woods, Shawn Clarke and Riley Mathews will take on the best young basketball talent in the country next month, with the Alcheringa Basketball Club team mates to represent Country Victoria at the Australian Junior Country Cup. By VINNIE RODI
ALCHERINGA Basketball Club created history this week, with three of its talented Under 14 basketballers selected to represent Country Victoria at the Australian Junior Country Cup. To be held in Albury in January, the tournament will feature the very best junior basketballers in Australia and New Zealand, with Alcheringa team mates Riley Mathews, Ryan Woods, and Shawn Clarke, all 12, selected. The tournament will mark the first time any of the youngsters will represent their State, with excitement levels high.
All three basketballers had to undergo a long selection process to make it to this point, identified first locally, before travelling to Bendigo for weekly training and selection camps. Riley, Ryan, and Shawn joined a further nine Mildura-based basketballers to be selected for their age group sides, with the trio now spending their weeks training together in the lead-up to the event. The achievement for not just the boys, but for everyone involved in our junior program,” Alcheringa Basketball Club president, Garry Mathews, said. “The club has prided itself on the programs we have in place to help our young players develop and grow, and the selection of three of our under 14’s in an 10-man squad is a great result.” Garry said initiatives like the club’s mini-ball program – which aims to equip youngsters with the skills they need to excel in the game – and involvement in a number of Mildura Basketball Association programs had been the key to success. “The club had close to 200 mini-ball participants this year, with all three of these boys having progressed through that system,” he said. “It’s a great starting point, and a program we’re looking to continue to push in the future.”
This year has also seen the club implement a new scholarship program to aid those players who earn State selection, with $3000 to be made available each year. Funds have been made available through sponsorships, raffles, and other programs implemented by the club, with Riley, Ryan and Shawn to be the first recipients. “Each of the boys will receive $1000 – which will hopefully go toward covering any costs associated with the trip,” Garry said. “Our goal is to continue to set aside $3000 each season for potential State representatives, with being in a position to financially assist our players extremely important.”