Brydens Sydney Uni Flames have further extended their already burgeoning development pathway for female basketball players in New South Wales with the announcement that the club will be entering a team in the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL), commencing in 2017, to be known as the Sydney Uni Sparks.
The Sparks will serve as a stepping stone to the WNBL for players currently in the Flames’ Academy program, formalising the pathway from junior elite basketball to the top level of the sport in Australia for players in New South Wales.
The team will be comprised primarily of players currently training in the Flames Academy, with members of the Flames WNBL squad potentially adding some experience to the outfit in the club’s first venture into the highest calibre league in Australia outside of the WNBL.
The program’s link with the University of Sydney will assist to deliver an alternative to the US college system by providing elite student athletes with the opportunity to study as well as continue to work towards achieving their basketball goals. The Sparks program will aim to identify student athletes that have the potential to play in the WNBL and provide these players with the opportunity to study at one of the world’s top universities as well as play basketball at an elite level.
The creation of the Sparks is one of the largest undertakings in the history of the Sydney Uni Flames basketball program, and it is with good reason that many people involved with the project are excited about the future direction of the Sparks and the Flames’ overall program.
“This significant development will enable the Sydney Uni Flames to develop its own players while equipping them with a first class education for their post-sport careers. It offers a great pathway not just for Sydney-based girls but also for those from the various regional centres of the State,” said President of Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness, Mr Bruce Ross.
Basketball Australia General Manager of Competitions, Paul Maley was thrilled with the addition of the Sparks to the upcoming 2017 SEABL season.
“Of course Sydney’s planned entry into the SEABL had to go through the normal evaluation and approval process, but the strength of their bid was apparent from the beginning, especially in terms of their commitment to development work and educational opportunities.
“The further expansion of SEABL into New South Wales is a fantastic outcome for the league and will continue to strengthen the connection between Basketball Australia’s two most prominent leagues in SEABL and the WNBL.”
It is certainly an exciting time for the Flames as the WNBL side aims for a finals berth after missing out in 2015/16, and the addition of the Sparks will only add to the buzz around Sydney Uni women’s basketball as the club continues to create pathways for players in New South Wales.
Chair of Basketball NSW, Bob Elphinston OAM, commended Brydens Sydney Uni Flames for their vision.
“Basketball NSW is pleased to support the entry of Sydney Uni Sparks into the 2017 SEABL. A key objective of BNSW is to increase female participation and the Sydney Uni Sparks will be an important step for our elite girls’ pathway,” said Mr Elphinston.
The SEABL women’s competition consists of 15 teams in Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales, and the ACT. The Sparks will double New South Wales’ presence in the league, alongside the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits, and will be the first SEABL team to represent in Sydney in over a decade. Current Flames player Belinda Snell won a SEABL Most Valuable Player award playing for the Sydney Sharks in 2002, with fellow Flames players Hayley Moffatt, Sarah Graham, Shanae Greaves, Lara McSpadden, Alex Wilson, Cassidy McLean, and Tahlia Tupaea all featuring in the league at various points.