STAMPEDE # 2: IT’S ALL ABOUT OUR PLAYERS
Sometimes, I have discovered, when focused on the financial future of a club like the Hobart Chargers, wading my way through spreadsheets, ticket sales, sponsorship revenue, debt and expenditure… it is easy to forget momentarily what it is all about. To me it is all about the players and the joy that they bring our supporters and the pride they bring to our community. This week I have asked both coaches if they will allow me five minutes before our two games to deliver a simple message to our players: thank you.
Thank you for the way you represent this club in our community. Whether you were born here, or Hobart is your adopted home. Whether you are just passing through for this season or will return and make this your second home. You, our players, are the lifeblood, the pride and the reason this club exists. I want an opportunity to say thank you to you for each week going onto the court and giving your all. I want to say thank you to you for the thousand of smiles you have brought to school kids faces this season right across southern Tasmania. I am so proud of the way that even, on the rare occasion you are beat on the court, you stick around to high-five, sign caps and take selfies with hundreds of adoring kids.
This town remembers its heroes. We still speak with adulation and affection of people like Cal Bruton, Andree Greenwood, Mark Nash, Robyn Maher, Debbie Black, Joe Hurst, Wayne MacDaniel, Bill Tomlinson and David Stiff. Why? Because these were people who more than twenty years ago - gave us so much joy and gave their all to make top flight basketball shine in southern Tasmania. I believe our current crop of players - both Men and Women - will be remembered in this way. And in 20 years time we will still be saying: were you there the night Kathleen hit that triple-double or the night Mathiang dropped 6 in a row from the 3pt line? Were you there the night Fraser took down 10 defensive boards, the night Josie had her first 30 point game? I want to be there on the night we win a home Grand Final at the DEC. Pity my poor as yet unborn grandchildren, I will talk about that forever.
Like never before this crop of players are giving to this community. We are now on track for 8,000 kids in southern Tasmania to meet and play with Chargers players and coaches in clinics and camps in 2017 alone. This is an extraordinary achievement and commitment from our players and coaches. I have seen first hand the joy and aspiration in those thousands of young eyes - joy and aspiration provided by our players. Thank you! And it is for this reason alone that our Government has this week decided to provided $105,000 towards our in-school clinic program. Together with funding from our partners in the Southern CAMS, Telstra, St Lukes Health and Basketball Tasmania this will mean we have a fully funded schools program for the first time in history. The key factor in securing this funding was the willingness and commitment of our players to do the work. I know Rob, Kathleen, Alex, and Mathiang have shouldered a huge amount of this workload.
We also want to recognise the Member for Denison, Hon. Elise Archer MP in her critical support for this funding and her guidance through the corridors of power. I am looking forward to making a special thank you presentation to her on court this Friday night.
I will never forget that moment when Tracey Febey hit two free throws with 7 seconds on the clock for the Islanders to win the WNBL championship. Thus far, it was the greatest moment of my basketball fandom and supporter career - the playing career was much more lacklustre. I have a sneaking suspicion, a little bright glowing light in my mind that sometime, before the 2017 season is out, Tracey’s free throws may be relegated to second or third spot in this ranking.
Go Chargers! Thanks Chargers!