Lessons Not Learned

Why is it that some administrators continue to make rods for their own backs?

A year ago Basketball Australia went against its own Governance processes and changed the National Wheelchair Basketeball League competition to a seven team competition and re-issued fixtures to accommodate a new team, two weeks before the start of the 2015 competition.

As a matter of principle, and also because players had planned their lives around the original schedule and not the new one that was issued the Perth Wheelcats the defending Champions withdrew from the competition. The reasons were covered in Sacrificing the Olympic Dream

Incredibly a year down the track nothing appears to have changed at head office and lessons have not been learned.

In 2015 it was decided that the Australian Women’s Wheelchair Basketball side, The Gliders, would play in the National competition. This made sense as at the time they were preparing for a do-or-die tournament to qualify for the Rio Olympics. Sadly the silver medallists from London failed to qualify.

This year the plan was to again have the team play in the national competition, and all of Australia’s top female players were advised that they must play for the Gliders and could not play for another side in the competition.

The fixtures were released for 2016 and all of the teams competing, including the Perth Wheelcats, were in a position to start planning for the season ahead.

However, this week all of that planning had to be put on hold as Basketball Australia announced with no consultation, according to the other teams in the competition, that the Gliders would no longer be competing in the league. Not only did Basketball Australia fail to pick up the phone and advise the teams but they also did not even pick up the phone to tell the Gliders players what was happening. They received an email at the same time as the other teams advising them that they were now free to join other sides in the competition.

The National Wheelchair Basketball League is due to start in three weeks time!

There is no doubt that all of the teams will accommodate these talented females coming back, but some will no doubt have opted to give up-and-coming basketballers more game time in 2016, and that could now be in jeopardy. It could also mean that these young athletes walk away from the game and opt to pursue another sport. With the Gliders having failed to qualify for Rio and the Men’s team, the Rollers, having to face a series of retirements due to in the main disenchantment with the way the game is being run, one has to worry about the future of the sport, and Australia’s place as one of the top sides in the World.

In the last three Olympiads the Australian Men have played in all three Paralympic finals winning one gold and two silver medals. The Women have played in three of the past four Paralympic finals having won three silver medals and one bronze in 2008.

Many are questioning whether the administration of the sport is now putting that wonderful record at risk. Once again it feels as if a more inclusive approach, better communication and adhering to the rules of Governance that are put in place to prevent such events, would soon have the sport back on track. Let us hope that someone at Basketball Australia realises this and acts.

Lessons Not Learned

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