in 2015 the National Wheelchair Basketball League Champions, the Be Active Perth Wheelcats, withdrew from the the League because Basketball Australia had broken its own constitution by admitting a new side into the League, and after he fixtures had been announced. (Lessons not Learned)
In 2016 they are back in the League, although the team is now under the control of Basketball Western Australia rather than Wheelchair Sports WA, as it is believed that the latter was issued with a fine for withdrawing the team last year. A truly bizarre situation, where an administrative body should impose a penalty on a team that was trying to ensure that they adhere to their own competition rules. Yet as we are witnessing in several sports a sadly not an uncommon move.
The Perth Wheelcats have been the most successful team in the competition, they are arguably Western Australia’s most successful sporting team. The League was established in 1988, and the Perth team won its first title in 2002. They then won five titles in a row from 2006-2010, and it was no coincidence that in that period that four of the Australian starting five came from the Perth team, and the Australian Rollers won Paralympic Gold in Beijing.
The Wheelcats won the National title again in 2013, and to everyone’s surprise in 2014 when the team lost a number of players to a new team based out of South Australia, the Red Dust Heelers. It proves that you cannot write a good team off. It should also be mentioned that in 2011 and 2012 they finished runners up in the Grand Final.
Sadly on the Basketball Australia website there are no records of the National Wheelchair Basketball League Champions since the end of the 2012 season, four years ago!
At the weekend, following two victories in their two games against the RSL Spinning Bullets, the Perth Wheelcats find themselves sitting atop of the League standings once again. Once again they have a weakened side, with Laureus award finalist Justin Eveson having announced his retirement from the game.
In their preview of the season ahead Basketball Australia tipped the Perth side to finish in the bottom three places in the league. If that was not incentive enough to prove people wrong the line stating that the Perth Wheelcats “has struggled to maintain their dominance in recent years” really had the players fired up.
One wonders what the writer could possibly be referring too. in 2011 and 2012 the team made the Grand Final and lost, after having won the title in the five years preceding 2011. In 2013 and 2014 they won back their title and in 2015 due to the game’s administrators breaking their own rules opted to withdraw from the competition as they would have struggled to field teams in some of the re-arranged fixtures. Four finals and two wins in two of those four finals hardly indicates a team struggling to maintain dominance.
The final minor annoyance was that the game’s governing body in their preview of the season could not spell the team’s coach’s name properly, calling Kelvin Browner, Kevin. When one takes into consideration that Mr Browner was twice team manager for the Australian Rollers at the Paralympics and has also been named the NWBL Coach of the year in the past, you would expect those running the game to get his name right.
The Wheelcats have always had a target on their back, it is something that sits comfortably with the team. This weekend they were pushed all the way by the RSL Spinning bullets, but it was team work and leadership from their international players that saw them pull through. It would be a very brave man to write them off and they are certainly hell bent on making one Basketball Australia scribe eat his words.