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Basketball NSW hoping female funding an ‘assist’

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Newcastle basketballers are expected to be among thousands of female athletes to benefit from the state government’s latest cash splash.

In a bid to encourage more girls to connect with, and remain in sport, NSW Treasurer Matt Kean committed a further $25 million be spent in upgrading sporting facilities to address gender-specific requirements.

Aptly-named the Female Friendly Facility Fund, the money will be available to sporting groups wishing to add features such as additional lighting and female change rooms.

Mr Kean joined Minister for Mental Health Bronwyn Taylor, Minister for Sport Alister Henskens, NSW Basketball CEO Maria Nordstrom, NSW Swifts GM Tracey Scott, as well as athletes from NSW Swifts and NSW Basketball, in making the announcement at Sydney Olympic Park Quay Centre on Tuesday morning.

Ironically, it comes as a dozen of Newcastle’s best 12 and 13-year-old basketballers are attending a two-day Talented Athletes Program at the centre.

The girls are among 50 chosen in their age group from across NSW.

They will spend the coming days developing their talents in the annual intensive course hosted by Basketball NSW in conjunction with the NSW Office of Sport.

Mr Henskens says they are a representation of who he hopes will benefit most from the funding.

“We know the old adage ‘build it and they will come’ applies here,” he said.

“For too long our facilities have been dedicated toward male athletes and we know that there’s a surge in female participation in our sporting organisations and we need to give them the facilities to complement their aspirations.”

Ms Nordstrom agrees, adding today’s funding is deliberately female-focused.

“While the pool of girls participating in sport is increasing, we see a significant drop off at 13, and again at 16 to 17,” she said.

“There are a variety of factors that drive that. One is that girls’ priorities change when they start high school.  Their peer group and study becomes more important. 

“But, it is also that girls are entering puberty, being more conscious of their bodies and not wanting to be embarrassed.

“Our role in sport is to provide a safe environment for girls to grow and prosper not only as athletes but as people, and foster a more rounded development of athletes, the person and creating a safe space for that to occur.”

An elite athlete herself in her youth, Nordstrom says her sport was addressing the need to encourage female participation long term.

“We currently have 27% girls playing basketball across NSW. We want to grow that. Across NSW there is a shortage of community facilities to the value of $500 million,” she said.

“Basketball alone has a shortage of 136 courts in Sydney and we work closely with each local council to build new facilities, and many are in the pipeline.”

Newcastle, she admits, is also on the list.

“We are excited the new stadium project at Glendale is moving forward and have a short runway to commence construction after the significant delay experienced to date,” she added.

“We are looking forward to the kids in the Hunter having more opportunities to play basketball.”

Basketball NSW U13 Talented Athlete Program participants 2022

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