Opening puts new bounce into sport

ON TARGET: Basketball Association stalwarts Rob and Dawn Ashdown jump for joy at the news that the Ewingsdale Rd courts are ready to play on.
ON TARGET: Basketball Association stalwarts Rob and Dawn Ashdown jump for joy at the news that the Ewingsdale Rd courts are ready to play on. Digby Hildreth

THE indoor centre at the Byron Sports and Cultural Complex in Ewingsdale Rd finally opened for use on Monday, nearly six months after its ceremonial launch.

More than 40 sports and other groups are interested in using the $4 million centre and the Byron Shire Council is in the process of allocating rooms and time slots.

"It's been a great response with interested parties coming from basketball, futsal, roller derby, dance, yoga, martial arts, health training and committee meetings," said Greg Ironfield, council's acting head of society and culture.

Groups council has been in discussion with would be sent booking forms to complete and return with payment, he said.

"Meanwhile, other groups that haven't yet contacted council are also welcome to come in and have a look through the centre and book a time to start using the space."

Mr Ironfield said booking forms were also available on council's website.

Basketballers are one group that said they were "extremely excited and happy to once again have a home for basketball in Byron Bay.

The sport's 50-year history in the shire came to an end five years ago when the capacity to stage tournaments was compromised by a lack of space.

"With the building of the BRSCC we see hope for the resurrection of basketball in Byron Bay," said Dawn Ashdown, the publicity officer for Byron Bay Basketball Association.

In the '60s, basketball was played in the Literary Institute in Jonson St - now the Community Centre. In those days, the competition was very strong, with exhibition matches played during the Oleander Festival on the road in front of the old ambulance depot.

Games moved to the rec ground for many years until the high school was built in 1987 and became Byron Bay Basketball's first indoor home. "We quickly outgrew the high school with the popularity of the game and the long decline began," Ms Ashdown said.

The local group had applied for a State Government grant to help fit out the centre to a national standard - providing an additional $82,269 for the indoor complex, Ms Ashdown said.

Now, basketball could run weekend carnivals, clinics and state league matches.

Anyone interested in playing or being involved can come to free "come and try" days on Saturday, August 4 and 11, between 10am and 4pm.

They will be mentored by Thalo Green, the ex Melbourne Tigers and Sydney Kings star, and Byron Bay native Nash Campbell, former NCAA college player. For details, ring Julie on 6685 3314 or Matt 6685 9847. Competition begins on August 14.

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