Basketballers chase hoop dreams

THE basketball courts of Albany’s Leisure and Aquatic Centre were filled with cheers and shoe-squeaks as young girls practised basketball skills taught to them by the coaches of Her Hoops.

This is the second time the all-female coaches, all professional players from the USA and Australia, have come to Albany to bring their basketball program to an excited group of girls wanting to learn the ropes of basketball.

Her Hoops Director Makaliah Dyer said they want to give girls and opportunity to play and have fun.

“We thought it was a great opportunity to create something just for girls. They all have great attitudes and are so energetic,” she said.

The four-hour sessions ran over two-days and the girls were able to learn vital basketball skills and techniques that were then put into practise in three-on-three and five-on-five games that ran for five minutes each.

“The girls are amazing, they are always excited and grateful,” Ms Dyer said.

“We [the coaches] all have a passion for the game, and we wanted to create the same situation that we had in the States and in Australia, a program for kids who wouldn’t have the same experiences.”

Prizes were given out at the end of the program to those who showed spirit, strength and performed well, as well as team prizes from the three-on-three and five-on-five sessions.

Her Hoops hopes to return to Albany at the end of the year to run another program and continue running the program twice a year from then on.

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Ruck backs his Royals boys in

A FAMOUS newspaper editor once told me: “When you’re a leader it doesn’t matter if everyone likes you, but they do have to respect you”.

Speaking one-on-one with Andrew Ruck, you get the impression he’s the kind of coach who players would listen to.

Not one to mince words and never shy of an opinion, Ruck’s honest and open approach to footy is one you expect commands respect.

And it’s been a winning formula for Royals Football Club over the past two years, with Ruck leading the Lions to back- to-back premierships in the Great Southern Football League.

After signing on for another season with the Lions over the summer break, Ruck’s Royals will try to etch themselves into the record books when they vie for a three-peat in 2021.

Although Ruck says he’s been lucky with the level of talent that’s come into the club since taking over the reins in 2018, his coaching skills have clearly had something to do with the League team winning 26-games in-a-row.

Ruck knows as well as most how demanding the national code can be.

Like many aspiring country footballers hoping to play at the elite level, he moved to Perth in an attempt to get drafted into the AFL system.

The former Claremont ruckman reckons he was about a 50/50 chance of getting picked up by an AFL club, but like many, the right cards didn’t fall his way.

“It gives you an idea of how hard it is to break in,” Ruck told the Weekender.

“The hardest thing to teach kids is they probably aren’t going to play AFL.”

After playing what he described as his best year of footy, Ruck’s 76-game WAFL career was cut short when he damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in 2011 and required a full knee reconstruction.

But while one door closed, another opened.

Coaching opportunities came up in the PSA system and State 15’s before spending two seasons as assistant coach with the Perth Demons.

Keen to take charge of his own side, Ruck was then appointed the new Colts Coach in 2016.

He had immediate success, guiding the young Demons to a minor premiership during his first year in charge.

However, Ruck eventually became frustrated with the way the WAFL Commission was running the Colts competition and decided a move to the country was just what he needed.

After Royals bowed out in the first week of finals in 2018, Ruck took over from James McRae and guided the Lions to successive premiership wins over Railways and Denmark – each decisive Grand Final victories.

“I’ve got my ideas, and I’m happy to tinker and change them, but I’m pretty big on a few things which I’ve seen in my time which makes a club a club,” Ruck said.

“The most enjoyable thing is we have a fantastic coaching group. I don’t go to footy to get away from the missus, I come down to catch up with mates.

“Winning is just a bonus. We’ve had a few good strategies but other clubs will sort us out, no doubt.”

Boasting some high-class veterans and a talented group of youngsters, Ruck said his team had found the right mix of youth and maturity.

“I just think we’ve got a good core,” he said.

“Five to six really good older blokes who are still really fit and working hard and we’ve got across the club 20-30 guys between 18 and 25 who are bloody good kids.”

Ruck says a number of his players are getting calls from other clubs, but he’s confident they’ll stick firm.

“I back our boys in,” he said.

“They can get $300 bucks to play each round, but is it all about money? Probably not.

“At other clubs someone like Jayson Ford could get $500 a game but we don’t pay money.”

Ruck says he’s got at least one more year with Royals, but beyond that is the unknown.

“At this stage, I’ve definitely got one more year and anything can change, but I’ m really enjoying myself, so we will give it this year and reassess,” he said.

“I’ve had the motto lets paint the town blue. So it’s something we’ve been running with.

“Whenever I drive past a Royals number plate or I see blue shorts or jumper, it puts a smile on myself to know there are heaps of people around who are Royals people.”

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Tigers premiership defence in tatters

RAILWAYS’ quest for an eighth straight Albany and Districts Cricket Association A-grade title is in ruins after being rolled for just 49 by a Nathan Crudeli-led Mt Barker on Saturday.

Tigers captain Coen Marwick was left stranded on 18 not out as his side crumbled around him in the worst batting display since Royals were bowled out for 49 last season.

You couldn’t say conditions ideally suited the bowlers, either, with the sun shining bright for most of the afternoon at Centennial Stadium.

Remarkably, the Railways total could have been much worse.

The Tigers were in all sorts after stumbling to 8/15 inside the first six overs, but some lower order resistance from Cooper Filipowski and Ryan Tindale saved their team from serious embarrassment.

Crudeli – who captained Railways last year – claimed ultimate bragging rights over his former side as he snared 5/15 in a magnificent display of swing bowling.

In an eventful start to the match, Crudeli had dangerous opener Alan Pietersen clean bowled for a golden duck on the second ball of the day and then had Aubin Spurr caught behind for another duck just three deliveries later.

When left-arm paceman Steven Scott ripped straight through the defences of Oswin D’Sylva, Railways had slumped to 3/4 after just two overs.

Marwick looked devastated out in the middle as his teammates fell like flies.

Tindale and Filipowski helped Railways avoid complete disaster as they chipped in for some crucial lower order runs, but the Tigers couldn’t make it past 50 as they meekly succumbed in the 19th over.

The Bulls chased down the total inside 16 overs, with Alex Fergie’s 21 runs from 52 balls the game’s top score.

Hayden Davies was one shining light on an otherwise dismal day for Railways, taking 3-13.

A few hundred metres away on Turf C, a separate batting collapse decided another game’s result.

Chasing Manypeak’s 160 for victory, Collingwood Park couldn’t find any rhythm as they were bowled out for a miserly 89 in the 34th over.

Off-season Manypeaks recruit Daniel Rees jagged a fiver as he ran amok with Park’s lower order.

A subdued batting display got Peaks beyond the 150 mark earlier in the day, with no one passing 25 with the stick.

Paul Donaldson was looking on track for a big score before he was caught at point for 23, while Captain Aaron Tilbury notched up a quick-fire 20 from 25 balls.

Paceman Ben Grey impressed with the ball for Park, finishing with 2/19 from his nine overs.

But he couldn’t back his bowling form up with the bat, out lbw for one inside the first 15 minutes of Park’s run-chase.

After Leroy Van Den Dool was back in the sheds for a duck, Nathan Dovey and Nathan Barrow went about steadying the ship, combining for a 26-run partnership.

But when Dovey was bowled by veteran leg-spinner Ryan Kinnear, it triggered a major collapse.

The Kangaroos lost 5-15 to be all out for 89 in the 35th over as Rees weaved his trickery with the ball.

After six rounds, Mount Barker sit pretty on top of the ladder undefeated, while Railways are rooted to the bottom with only one win.

In an association first, this weekend’s round of fixtures sees teams vie for premiership points in the entertaining T20 format.

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Interschool hat-trick to St Josephs

ST JOSEPHS College is in a class of its own when it comes to competitive athletics after snagging their third straight interschool title earlier this month.

Nine students from years 3-6 came away with medals in their respective divisions at the recent Albany Districts Primary School Sports Association (ADPSSA) interschool athletics carnival, with a number of young stars breaking competition records.

Taking out a three-peat of shields, St Josephs were crowned the champion school with 984 points for the day.

Great Southern Grammar finished second on 799 points, while Bethel Christian School (637) and Parklands Montessori School (606) rounded out the top four.

St Josephs Physical Education Teacher Jason Norris was ecstatic with the performance of his young guns.

“When I started teaching here last year it was apparent there was a lot of raw talent for athletics within the junior school that just needed to be pointed in the right direction to yield results,” he said.

“The results from this year’s carnival prove the school is on the right track.

“My philosophy on teaching is very simple, wherever there is effort there is always achievement.”

Mr Norris said junior school students participate in athletics training during Physical Education lessons and before school training sessions, which has led to the establishment of a sporting talent academy for middle and senior school students.

He said St Josephs would aim for a fourth-straight ADPSSA title in 2021.

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Tigers draw a line in the sand

A FIRED-UP Railways outfit snagged their first premiership points of the 2020/21 Albany and Districts Cricket Association season after an inspired bowling performance handed the Tigers a comfortable win over Collingwood Park.

Losing a number of key players in the off-season, Railways had looked like a shadow of the team that won the past seven ADCA titles.

But as champion teams often do when they’re up against it, the Tigers responded in impressive fashion.

Although Collingwood Park batted out their 45 overs, Railways were able to restrict the Kangaroos to 8/112.

Railways Captain Coen Marwick led the way with the ball, taking three wickets for just 13 runs.

Marwick, who has a knack for snaring key wickets at crucial times, dismissed Leroy Van Den Dool caught behind for 34, just as the Park batsman was looking dangerous.

Van Den Dool was the only Park player to make it past 20 as the away team struggled to find boundaries with any regularity.

After being promoted to the top of the order, Ben Grey was clean bowled by Cooper Filip- owski for a 20-ball duck, while the dangerous Nathan Dovey was caught behind for eight.

Darting off-spinner Aubin Spurr was incredibly economical for Railways, going for just 17 runs off his nine overs.

Byron Spaanderman (17*) mounted a mini fight back at the end of Park’s innings, but it was a case of too little too late as the Kangaroos crawled to their miserly total.

Defending just 113, Park were going to need a bunch of early wickets to have any chance of making a miraculous fight back.

And Grey delivered for his captain in the fifth over, ripping straight through the defence of aggressive opener Alan Pietersen for 5.

Wickets then fell at regular intervals, with Spurr (17) and Marwick (20) back in the sheds before the end of the 15th over.

The trouble for Park was they couldn’t stop Railways scoring quick runs.

Ryan Davies notched up a run-a-ball 23, while debutant Oswin D’Sylva hit three boundaries during his knock of 18.

After losing too many key batsmen, Railways failed to secure a bonus-point win, with Jarrad Fuller smashing consecutive fours to seal victory in the 32nd over.

Just a few hundred metres away at Centennial Park, Royals notched up their second win on the trot with a 30-run triumph over Manypeaks.

Batting first, Royals reached 8/178 off their 45 overs as young gun Ryley Valli continued to show a level of maturity well beyond his years.

A classy 47 at the top of the order took Valli’s season run tally to 143 at an average of 71.50.

The 16-year-old is the ADCA’s leading run scorer in A-grade.

When Royals captain Mitch Green came to the crease, the Lions were 1-76 in the 21st over.

Green looked back to his best form as he went on to make 47 from 61 balls, including three big sixes over square leg.

Young fast bowler Charlie Walters bowled magnificently at the death for Peaks, finish- ing with 4/30 off his nine-over spell.

Requiring 179 for victory, Manypeaks’ chase couldn’t have got off to a worse start, with captain Aran Tilbury run out for a diamond duck in the first over.

Last season’s grand finalists were in all sorts after swing bowler Tyler Crommelin trapped Regan Poett LBW after facing just five balls.

When Railways recruit David Brown had Ethan Drew out for two, Peaks had slumped to 4/33 inside ten overs.

Ryan Kinnear and Kieran Howie dug in to save their side from a hefty defeat, combining for a slow-and-steady 78-run partnership.

Peaks needed about six runs an over off the last 10 to pull off an unlikely win but couldn’t find another gear as they were bowled out for 148 in the 44th over.

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Gutsy Sea Dragons make their mark on inaugural comp

THE Albany Sea Dragons punched well above their weight to reach the grand final of the inaugural Great Southern Nines rugby league tournament at Centennial Oval last weekend.

Powerhouse Perth side Fremantle Roosters were convincing winners in the Nines decider – running out 30-8 victors – but the underdog Sea Dragons gained a heap of admiration for the way they went about it on and off the field.

The Sea Dragons’ gutsy performance was summed up by the efforts of young defender Naki La’akulu, who suffered a serious head injury in the grand final and had to be taken to hospital.

Albany Sea Dragons President Gary Tutt said La’akulu was in good spirits after being flown to Perth for recovery.

“As soon as the injury happened, everyone was concerned, everyone was out there making sure he was okay,” he said.

“I’ve had follow-up phone calls from the other clubs asking us for an update, which is amazing. They were all genuinely concerned.”

The incident added a sour note to a tournament that was otherwise hailed a big success.

NRLWA Operations Manager Tony Crowe said the Great Southern Nines was now a lock on the local rugby calendar.

“We are really happy with the initial outcome, given it was the inaugural year with five teams participating,” he said.

“Three of those teams have already committed to next year.

“We will use this as a platform. We believe on the back of that, there will be more teams coming down from Perth.”

As part of the tournament, over 40 local kids took part in a skills clinic on Sunday morning run by NRLWA.

“We now have a casual game development officer based in Albany as a result of this,” he said.

“The great work Gary Tutt and the Albany Sea Dragons have done is not to be underestimated.

“We are fortunate to have good people on the ground down there that are driving the game at a local level.

“Katanning has traditionally had a massive rugby union history, but we seem to have, over the last 12 months, taken a solid hold of the place and a good footprint there for rugby league.

“There is lots to look forward to.”

After losing their open- ing match against the Roosters by two points, the Sea Dragons quickly recovered to down Serpentine-Jarrahdale 12-10 in a nail biter.

And despite losing to Mandurah Storm by 10 points earlier in the day, the Sea Dragons later turned that result on its head to defeat the visiting team by 36-10 and book a place in the grand final.

Tutt said he couldn’t have been prouder of the Sea Dragons’ efforts.

“They gave all they had,” he said.

“We’ve got to remember, these teams are seasoned competitors, so they’ve been together a long time.

“Our team hasn’t had the opportunity to train a lot together and we have to try and work together from three different towns.

“For us to be a rag tag army, we did really well.”

Tutt said the Southern Nines would be back bigger and better next year.

“All the patrons, spectators and teams were really happy with it,” he said.

“A lot of the teams said they are going to bring back two or three squads next year.

“Hopefully next year we get twice as many clubs.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more from our first tournament.”

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Rugby league teams make their way south

THE ALBANY Sea Dragons are gearing up for the biggest event in their short history, with rugby league players from across south west WA travelling to Albany this weekend for the inaugural Great Southern Nines tournament.

Play will kick off from 10.30am on Saturday afternoon at Centennial Park (corner of North Road and Campbell Road) in a round robin format that will feature visiting teams from Mandurah, Fremantle, Rockingham and Serpentine.

The top four sides will progress to elimination finals, with the remaining two teams battling it out for glory in a grand final on Sunday at 11am.

Albany Sea Dragons co-captain Elliot Price said it was a great opportunity for his team to test themselves against some class opposition.

“We have travelled elsewhere like Bunbury to play matches, but it’s great for them to come down here,” he said.

Price will co-captain his team – which is made of players from Kojonup, Katanning and Denmark – in tandem with Fineongo Halai.

“I’ve always wanted there to be rugby down in Albany,” Price said.

“As soon as there was a mention of a rugby league down here, I had to be part of it.”

Unlike your normal rugby league games where there is 13 players on each team, the Nines format – you guessed it – only has nine players per side.

It’s also a much shorter game, with each half lasting nine minutes.

“There are less stoppages, smaller scrums – it’s mostly just play on,” Price said.

“It’s a quicker version of an al- ready quick game.”

As part of the tournament, NRL WA is hosting two skills clinics for young rugby enthusiasts.

Kids aged between six and 16 can take part in either of two sessions on Friday from 4.30 to 6pm or Sunday from 9.30 to 11am at Centennial Park.

Albany Sea Dragons President Garry Tutt said the weekend’s festivities were part of a wider push to grow rugby league in the Great Southern.

“There are a lot of people in town who support rugby league,” he said.

“The main reason I think they don’t come down and watch the games is they aren’t aware it’s on.

“Once we get our footprint down, I think people will take more interest.

“We are working towards creating a Great Southern league with Kojonup, Katanning, Denmark and being able to at least play a Nines competition between us all.”

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Inaugural rugby league comp part of wider push to grow sport in Great Southern

RUGBY league fanatics from around WA will converge in Albany later this month for the inaugural Great Southern Nines tournament.

About 500 people are expected to make their way south to take part in the event on November 21 – featuring teams from Rockingham, Mandurah, Jarrahdale and Fremantle.

Host club Albany Sea Dragons is fielding two competitive sides made up of players from Kojonup, Katanning, Denmark and Albany.

The matches will be played on the corner of Campbell and North Road in the Centennial Oval Sports Precinct from midday.

The event is part of a wider push to grow rugby league in the south of the state, with the Sea Dragons planning to start their own local rugby league competition next year.

“The local Albany community are right behind us,” Albany Sea Dragons President Gary Tutt said.

“Everyone is happy for a new sport to take place. “Covid slowed down having games this year, but we are still having kids rock up every Sunday for training.”

Tutt said the Sea Dragons would field four teams next year and play intraclub matches against each other across the Great Southern.

“At the moment it’s hard for anyone else to create a team,” he said.

“So we are using the Sea Dragons as a footing to grow potentially what will become the Great Southern Rugby League.”

In the lead up to the Great Southern Nines, Tutt said NRL WA would be holding school clinics – culminating in an open day with Perth players on Sunday, November 21.

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Revamped Bulls set early season marker

A NEW-look Mount Barker side have made a big statement in the opening round of the A-grade Albany and Districts Cricket Association, thrashing 2020 grand finalists Manypeaks by 100 runs at Sounness Park.

Star off-season recruit Nathan Crudeli top scored for the home side with a classy 65 on debut, while former Zimbabwean test player Neil Ferreira was a rock at the top of the order for the Bulls.

After winning the toss and batting first, Ferreira put on a 59-run opening stand with Alex Fergie before the latter was run out for 26.

Peaks veteran Ryan Kinnear was up to his old tricks with the ball, snaring Bulls Captain Jeremy Wood for 12 to give the away side a bit of momentum.

But that was quicky snuffed out when Crudeli walked to the crease, as the former Railways captain combined for a 52-run partnership with Ferreira.

When Ferreira was dismissed for a well-compiled 64, Mount Barker were 132-3 at the end of the 32nd over.

With plenty of batsmen left in the shed, the Bulls upped the ante late in their innings to pile on 92 runs from the final 13 overs.

Chasing 224, Manypeaks were going to need one of their batsmen to make a big score.

But when Crudeli snagged Peaks opener Regan Poett for 7, the outlook was grim at 2-19.

Peaks couldn’t manage to get a meaningful partnership going, losing wickets at regular intervals to eventually be bowled out for 114 in the 34 over.

Seb Stanton (26) and Kieren Howie (35) were shining lights on an otherwise disappointing day for last season’s minor premiers.

In a man-of-match performance, Ferreira finished with figures of 4/22.

Over in Albany, Royals failed to chase down 146 as Collingwood Park secured their first premiership points for the 2020/21 season.

Winning the toss and electing to bat on a muggy overcast day, Park were in trouble early after losing their top three batters in the first six overs.

Former Railways fast bowler David ‘Tractor’ Brown snared his first wicket on debut for Royals with a lovely line and length delivery that clipped Nick Barrow’s off-stump.

Big hitters Matt Heberle and Nathan Dovey then went about resurrecting their team’s innings with a crucial 42-run partnership.

Dovey was looking in ominous form before he held out on the square leg fence off the bowling of paceman Marcus Mellon for 18.

Four overs later Heberle (40) was also caught in the deep as spinner Angus Thompson went to work with his dipping leg breaks.

At 6-76, Collingwood Park were in trouble of being rolled for under 100. But young talent Dustin Boyce was able to play a mature knock to guide his side to a defendable target of 146.

In reply, Royals’ chase couldn’t have got off to a worse start as openers Daniel Robson and Tyler Crommelin were dismissed for ducks.

Star batsmen Mitch Green and Ryley Valli steadied the ship for the Lions, putting on a 44-run partnership at quick fire pace.

Green hit Peaks paceman Mitch Woods for consecutive boundaries before the Royals captain tried one too many big shots and was bowled for 34.

Valli (49*) played a lone hand for Royals as the lower order collapsed to be all out for 131 in 36 overs.

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Bishop’s global football crusade

WA FOOTBALL Commission Regional Development Specialist Matt Bishop led a varied life getting to his current role; from wanna-be veterinarian, to agriculture, to being awarded life membership to the United States Australian Football League.

Bishop also coached against Hawthorn star and 1986 Brownlow medallist Robert ‘Dipper’ DiPierdomenico at the 2011 International Cup.

Dipper had the reins for the Peace Team – a side with players from Israel and Palestine, a humanity story that was made into a documentary.

But let’s get back to the start.

Bishop was born in Victoria and also lived in NSW and Queensland where he finished high school.

He initially wanted to be a veterinarian and commenced university studies before changing to, and completing, an agricultural science degree.

Working for Meat and Livestock Australia, including visiting Fletchers which played a part in his moving to Albany in later years, he relocated to Washington DC with the organisation.

He was then offered a job in Sacramento, California and along with wife Amy, moved west.

“When I moved to the US I was aware that footy was played in places but I had no idea what to expect,” Bishop said.

“I had played club footy since I was young and I always had a footy or cricket bat/ball in my hands from very early on.

“So when I turned up to my first training session in Washington DC, I was blown away to find out there was a competition involving teams from north-eastern cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and North Carolina.

“Full games of footy would only be played against one or more of these teams on a monthly basis.

“In the meantime your local team would be split up into smaller teams to play Metro Footy. This is essentially what AFLX is modelled on.”

A highlight was Bishop coaching a representative side in 2006 that won the Division Two at the National Titles in Las Vegas, commentated by Dipper and Peter Schwab.

Bishop said an exciting aspect of the Nationals was the numerous AFL identities that visited and were fantastic in making themselves available.

Visitors included, Mark Thompson, Kevin Sheedy, Steven Silvagni, Dermott Brereton, Jobe Watson and Nick Riewoldt to name a few.

After moving to Sacramento, Bishop coached the Golden Gate team in 2010-11 and began coaching the USA men’s team in 2009, holding that role until the completion

Bishop also became close with AFL legend Paul Roos, who is married to an American and spent a year in San Diego after finishing his playing career.

Roos coached the first USA men’s team and is credited with growing the popularity of footy in the US when it was in its infancy.

Bishop also assisted in the AFL Combines, to identify athletic talent with potential to play AFL and met those that were successful such as Shae McNamara and Mason Cox (Collingwood), Jason Holmes (St Kilda) and Eric Wallace (North Melbourne).

These events were also attended by several AFL Recruiters such as Stephen Silvagni, Gavin Wright and Jason Cripps.

Bishop returned to Australia in 2017, by then he had two young children and did not want to commit to educating them in the US system.

“And we weren’t ready to endure the Trump regime,” he added.

Bishop’s role covers everything from Auskick, juniors through to senior football, coach and umpire development, league and club support through to working with Local and State governments on facilities.

Bishop said the most exciting development is the interest in female football.

“There is no doubt that female footy is going to explode throughout WA in the short to medium term,” he said.

“In some ways WA is behind the eastern states in this area but it will catch up very fast.

“The GSFLW was very successful in 2020, prior to covid, and the opportunity to establish competitions for girls of all ages is there for the taking.”

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