The word around basketball circles is that the Oakleigh Warriors are dead and buried as a club.
That's news to a dedicated band committed to resurrecting their club. There is no doubt that due to events beyond their control they find their beloved club in a perilous state, but that isn't stopping this group from being "glass half full".
Heading the group is long time servant Bob Mann, "it has been a tough year, that's for sure, but the last couple of months have been the toughest I have gone through in the sport since i started coaching and running basketball clubs in 1990. It's devastating to see what our club has gone through, but especially our families and juniors who this club has come to mean so much to over the years."
Bob is referring to club's members being forced into competitions at the neighboring McKinnon Association. This came about after former president Tony Pitara and his committee refused to accept a Special General Meeting result attended by 70 members of the club on August 10th. At that meeting a new executive was elected
"Rather than accept the result or make an attempt to work out the clubs issues internally, Tony Pitara and his crew went running off to Basketball Victoria." a clearly angry Bob Mann extorted.
"Once Basketball Victoria became involved our club has simply been torn asunder. It seems to me and many others that everybody has been mislead by the past executive committee about the state of our club and that nobody has any regard for what our club meant for our members and especially our juniors. Our kids have lost a quality program and quality competitions that focused on giving our kids more game time, more development and independent coaching from people who knew something about the game. That has all been lost now but we are going to work our butts off to get it back"
To rub salt into the wounds Glen Eira Council have given the Warriors court allocations at GESAC to the McKinnon Association as well.
"It's quite ironic, McKinnon are being portrayed as being our members saviors, well certain people certainly have short memories don't they! It was the McKinnon Basketball Association who expelled 200+ Warrior families out of heir competitions back in 2009 in what is still the most disgraceful junior sports administration decision I have ever seen. I am sure they are not doing this out of the goodness of their heart, the real prize is GESAC and they now have their hands all over it." a still angry Bob continues.
"We built this club from nothing back in 2009 after McKinnon kicked us out of their competitions then and we will rebuild it again"
The club members are rallying to start a fund-raising campaign to address the club's debt. The problem is that nobody seems to know what our debt is. Initially representatives of the new committee that was voted on August 10th were told the club had a debts totalying over seventy thousand dollars, since then varying assessments have been provided outlining a more positive financial picture. There have been calls for inspection of the club accounts and the completion of a full forensic audit. To this point those calls have remained unanswered. We hope that situation changes soon." a frustrated Bob Mann continues.
"There is a core group of people who want to work to get our club back on it's feet, they just need to be given that opportunity and everything at our club can change."
" For now we will simply get on with our fund-raising efforts and raise as many dollars as we can. This club will survive and come back, despite the forces aligned against us."
There will be fund-raising activities announced in coming weeks. If the club raises more than it needs to address any debt issues it will establish a building fund to secure it's own facility, one that Bob knows will secure his club's future permanently.
If you would like to become involved in the Warriors rebuilding effort get in contact initially via Bob at his email email at firstname.lastname@example.org.