Kids fighting for better basketball court at Ballina

ELLIE Roberts and Sian McCowan admit they get jealous when they travel to junior representative basketball tournaments and see the facilities other towns have.

The 12-year-olds are members of the Ballina Breakers Club, which has to rely on the support of Southern Cross School K-12 to use one purpose-built indoor basketball court - and that is not large enough to accommodate representative teams when they come to Ballina to play.

The two girls have taken the step of writing to Ballina Shire Council to push the case for an indoor sports stadium in the town.

"We are writing this letter to inform you that Ballina has a disgraceful lack of sporting facilities," the girls wrote.

"This problem could be solved quickly and easily if Ballina Shire invested in a multi-purpose sports stadium.

KIDS TAKE ACTION: Ballina Breakers junior basketballers Ellie Roberts and Sian McCowan have written to the council calling for an indoor sports stadium.
KIDS TAKE ACTION: Ballina Breakers junior basketballers Ellie Roberts and Sian McCowan have written to the council calling for an indoor sports stadium. Graham Broadhead

"Sporting events would attract many people to Ballina and also draw the attention of many athletes, coaches and tourists.

"With four basketball/netball courts, one tennis/badminton/squash/volleyball court, one indoor soccer field, two indoor cricket pitches, one fitness gym and yoga, dance gymnastics, cheer-leading and circus art, the stadium will succeed and thrive."

Both girls have been playing basketball for three years.

But the battle for an indoor sports stadium was going long before that.

Leanne McCowan, the registrar for the Ballina Breakers Basketball Association and Sian's mum, said the association had 526 members and had produced national league players such as Nathan Crosswell and Lauren King, but had been battling for nearly 20 years for a dedicated indoor sports stadium.

"Basketball gets pushed aside," she said.

She argued an indoor sports stadium could become a mini entertainment centre.

In June this year, Ballina Shire Council resolved "that no further action is to be taken on the preferred site for an indoor sporting and recreation facility until the outcomes of the current State Government review of the Crown Lands Legislation is known".

The council's general manager, Paul Hickey, said if the State Government's White Paper Review of Crown Lands was not completed in the next few months, the issue would be reported back to councillors for direction on how to proceed with a preferred site.

A consultant in 2012 estimated the cost of a basic four-court facility at $7-$8 million.


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