By Lawrence Machado
If you ever wanted to play social basketball and make new friends, then check out the Sydney Social Basketball League which runs competitions at Model Farms High School courts in Baulkham Hills.
John Hagar, the sports manager for SBL, said that the lack of enough Social Basketball facilities is keeping the sport from expanding further in Sydney.
“There is a massive interest in basketball but not many facilities for the general public,” Hagar said. “We are looking to diversify, and we have been trying to move into the Hills for some time. There is a big demand for social basketball in western Sydney and we are the first and largest private basketball association in Australia with over 1000 players, officials and referees.”
The games at Model Farms High School are open to men initially but Hagar said they are keen to field mixed, women and children’s teams too.
Hagar, who used to play the sport regularly, said large immigrant populations which have grown up with the highly popular American National Basketball Association, love the sport.
“All you need is a love for basketball and the social competitions we run to cater for newcomers and all levels,” he said. “We are diversifying and looking for new venues.
“We have established competitions in Blacktown, Petersham, Ryde, Caringbah, Glebe and Lidcombe. The competitions at Baulkham Hills run for 10-12 weeks and we play on Wednesdays from 6-10 pm. Ideally, we would like to run three seasons each year.
“Basketball is one of the most popular sports played at school. When students leave school and begin their working life, there are unfortunately not as many facilities that allow them to keep playing basketball in Sydney.”
SBL was founded in 1997 and Hagar says while local associations will cater for elite competitions, their league in Baulkham Hills will cater for social players who may not necessarily be the best but are passionate about the game.
“Players come first, and we look after them the best we can,’ Hagar said.
He said the SBL has implemented innovative technology by developing their own sports administration app that allows staff to take player statistics during a game and then immediately upload them in real-time to their website. This type of application is an Australian first for any social basketball competition, Hagar said.
“In business, customer service is paramount,” Hagar said. “ Our philosophy at SBL is to give our players the best playing experience we can.”