Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson with Sandy Brondello in 2018. Picture: Stuart Quinn
Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson with Sandy Brondello in 2018. Picture: Stuart Quinn

Mackay to host elite level basketball championships

Elite level junior basketball will be a mainstay for Mackay for the next two years in a major agreement that will create sporting pathways and showcase the region.

Mackay will host the Under 20 Australian Junior and Ivor Burge Basketball Championships for the first time in both 2021 and 2022, as part of a two-year agreement between Basketball Australia, Tourism and Events Queensland and Mackay Regional Council.

The 2021 event with a men's and women's division contested in both championships, will be held from May 3-7 at the McDonalds Mackay Multi-Sport Stadium.

The Under 20 Australian Junior Championships was first established in 1974 (men's) and 1981 (women's), with teams representing each state and territory compete for the title of Under 20s national champions.

The Ivor Burge Championships is for open-age players with an intellectual disability and dates back to 1995 when the inaugural tournament was held.

Opals coach Sandy Brondello in Townsville. Picture: Shae Beplate
Opals coach Sandy Brondello in Townsville. Picture: Shae Beplate

Sandy Brondello, arguably one of Australia's greatest basketballers and the current senior women's national team head coach, said she was thrilled her hometown would host the championships over the next two years.

"Mackay is a passionate basketball city and was a wonderful co-host of the hugely successful 2020 WNBL season," Brondello said.

"Having participated in the Under 20 Australian Junior Championships for Queensland in 1995, I know firsthand just how much this tournament means to Australia's emerging elite basketballers and their career aspirations.

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"I'm certain the people of Mackay will embrace these national championships and will make it an event to remember for visitors to the region."

Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said the council was looking forward to hosting elite level junior basketball athletes in our region.

"Events like these are not only great news for sporting fans but they improve the region's liveability," Cr Williamson said.

"Council is proud to support these events through our Invest Mackay Events Attraction Fund, which aims to attract more visitors to our region and, in turn, generate positive economic results for our community while fostering community pride."

UC Capitals centre Marianna Tolo at Mackay Basketball Stadium ahead of the opening night of the 2020 WNBL season in Mackay. Photo: Lee Brake
UC Capitals centre Marianna Tolo at Mackay Basketball Stadium ahead of the opening night of the 2020 WNBL season in Mackay. Photo: Lee Brake

BA general manager basketball Paul Maley said the sport's governing body was excited to bring these national championships to Mackay for the next two-years.

"The Under 20 Australian Junior and Ivor Burge Championships showcase the best young basketball talent from across the nation," he said.

"These championships are a critical part of the pathway for elite players, officials and coaches and many of our sport's greatest athletes have played in this event over the years, making for high quality and entertaining basketball over the week-long competition."

One of Mackay's finest, Australian Opal Marianna Tolo is excited to see one of her favourite events heading to North Queensland.

UC Capitals WNBL player Marianna Tolo. Photo: Callum Dick
UC Capitals WNBL player Marianna Tolo. Photo: Callum Dick

 

"It's great news the Under 20 Australian Junior Championships will be contested in Mackay over the next couple of years," Tolo said.

"I represented Queensland at the 2007 and 2008 Championships, where we claimed a silver and bronze respectively. They were actually my first medals at any national championships, so I have great memories of competing at the Under 20s.

"As an aspiring basketballer in Australia, these championships are important in your career progression and Mackay will be the perfect host for such an occasion."

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Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said the agreement with Basketball Australia, Mackay Regional Council and Tourism and Events Queensland would generate up to 19,000 visitor nights, supporting jobs and COVID-19 recovery.

Mrs Gilbert said Mackay would effectively become Queensland's junior basketball hub from May 3 to 7.

"This is great news for Mackay and is set to contribute $2.7 million to the region's COVID-19 economic recovery," Mrs Gilbert said.

"Over the two-years, bringing basketball to Mackay is estimated to generate up to 19,000 visitor nights for the region and support jobs for accommodation and transport providers, tourism operators, restaurants and cafes.

"The residents of Mackay will get to watch Basketball Australia's stars of the future in action and showcase our beautiful region.

"For players, there's much to enjoy off-court from the southern Great Barrier Reef to fishing, hiking and the wallabies at sunrise at Cape Hillsborough.

"It's our own slice of Queensland paradise and we can't wait to extend a warm welcome to the basketball community."

Tourism and Sport Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the two-year agreement between Tourism and Events Queensland, Basketball Australia and Mackay Regional Council would result in 20 teams competing in 85 games at the Multisport Stadium during May.

"Mackay will host the men's and women's Under 20 Australian Junior Championships and Ivor Burge Championships for open-age players with an intellectual disability the first time from May 3-7 2021, and host the championships again in 2022," Mr Hinchliffe said.

"These are state, amateur representative teams featuring the best young basketball talent and support crews staying in Mackay for the duration of the competition.

"For fans of the game, there is a feast of basketball to be had in Mackay.

"We know the tourism industry is hurting but it is events like the Under 20 Australian Junior Basketball Championships and Ivor Burge Championships that help to bring visitors to regional Queensland and support local jobs.

"Events are backing our state's economic recovery from COVID and helping the tourism industry to rebuild and rebuild better."

The fixture and ticketing information for the event will be announced soon.

The 2021 and 2022 Under 20 Australian Junior and Ivor Burge Championships are supported by the Queensland Government, Tourism and Events Queensland, Mackay Regional Council and Mackay Basketball.


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