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Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Page: 17564

Ms VAMVAKINOU (7:50 PM) —As parliamentarians, we are often fortunate enough to experience the success stories of our communities. Last Saturday night I attended a very special event which celebrated 25 successful years of the Broadmeadows Basketball Association—or the Broncos, as they are now known in basketball circles around the country. For a great part of my electorate, the sport of basketball has provided a community and team spirit without peer. On its inception in 1978, the Broadmeadows Basketball Association, originating at the Devon Road, Oak Park scout hall, was initially created merely as an outlet for the youth of the areas and surrounding suburbs, providing an insight into a sport that was still in the infant stages of popularity. The driving force behind the establishment of the club was Mal MacKay, a tireless activist who dedicated his life and time to the Broncos. There were others also, including people like Mary Porter and her family.

From the early 1980s the Broadmeadows Basketball Association made the most of the boom in basketball popularity and quickly positioned itself as one of the leading providers of basketball activities in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne. In the mid-1980s, things really began to happen for the Broncos. In 1984 the team in fact became the Broncos, and in their first year they finished sixth out of the 15 teams in the South East Australian Basketball League, while their division 3 team won the championship. In 1986, the Broncos got a new home, relocating to the new Dimboola Road stadium and making the `The Corral' their home court. Conveniently located in the heart of Broadmeadows, near schools and public transport, the stadium has allowed for the further incorporation of teams from outer suburbs.

Today, the Broncos have some 200 teams, both men's and women's, at junior and senior levels. In fact, there are 25 junior teams with some 100 local kids participating. There are four senior teams in the National Basketball League and teams in the South East Australian Basketball League. The Broncos have developed a fine tradition of encouraging young women to play basketball and the quality of the coaching and the support offered means that many young girls are able to develop to their full potential. In fact, some of the Lady Broncos, as they are known, have gone on to train at the national Institute of Sport here in Canberra.

But it is their junior development project that should be singled out for special praise. A year ago, they employed Mike Speers, an affable Californian, to be their junior development coordinator. Mike works with local schools and associations, promoting basketball and other activities for kids. Part of this includes an after school program run twice a week, which 50 kids attend, and also a school holiday program, which runs from 9.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. with 100 kids per week in attendance over the two-week period. This is a great effort for a great local club that looks out for the welfare of its young kids, especially given the shortage of school holiday programs and places available to kids with working parents during the school holiday period.

As I indicated earlier, the highlight of the 25th anniversary dinner last Saturday was the announcement of the club's team of the century. For a crowd of over 200 people the event was an opportunity for team-mates of the past as well as current team members to get together and to reminisce about the good days of old and anticipate the good days of the future. The camaraderie and the community spirit that resonated all night is something that all of those associated with the Broncos should be very proud of.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to Terri Sutton, the president of the Broadmeadows Basketball Association, and to the very affable Michael Collins, the treasurer, along with many other committee members who are a great example of the hard work and endeavour that typifies the Broncos. Congratulations should also go to those responsible for organising Saturday night, Mr Jim Milligan and Glen Milner, who put in a lot of effort to make sure that the function last Saturday night was a great success.

It has often been said that there is no `I' in the word `team' and that is very true in the case of the Broncos. In fact, the Broncos have typified this particular saying and illustrated a community spirit and ethos that makes me, and no doubt the rest of the community that I represent, very proud.