It is an understatement to say we had found a need for sporting activities for people who didn’t fit into existing mainstream basketball competitions! We soon discovered that there were no organised sporting activities being made available to this part of our community in Melbourne. But let’s go back and understand exactly what happened in 1985…
Paul Dunn, who was the manager of the Nunawading Recreation Centre, invited workers at the local sheltered workshops to come for an hour of basketball training. Because he was not a basketball coach, he sought and obtained the assistance of Vern Tessier (President of the Power House Basketball Club). As the story goes, Paul assured Vern that this would be “easy” and he should expect a dozen or so people to turn up. On arrival, Vern noted that the car park was empty and his thoughts were “looks like no-one has turned up”. When he walked in the door (with 2 basketballs), he was confronted with about one hundred and fifty players. What an introduction; what an eye opening moment! The usual assumptions did not apply – most of these people did not own or drive cars and as there were so few sporting opportunities for them to participate in, enthusiasm was high.
Power House ran basketball training sessions for a month. After this, they started the first formal basketball competition. Nine teams, what a great start! Then came the managing, with a body consisting of parents and minders. This approach faltered though as the competition moved away from being about basketball. Vern was determined though. He became the drive and passion behind what we enjoy today.
A new competition, completely separate, and involving new players was started on 10th August 1987. The commitment was simple. Run a basketball competition, that mirrored domestic basketball competitions played all over the world, catering for players who found it difficult to fit into mainstream basketball competitions. This has been a very successful and long lasting formula and has grown to cater for as many as forty-four teams across five grades. The competition is the Victorian State Championship competition and is affiliated with Basketball Victoria. Hundreds and hundreds of players have enjoyed “Friday night basketball” with Vern and his band of volunteers since that humbling beginning back in 1987.