Hitting the hoops

Words by Jordan Canovan

The Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club with the Dandenong Rangers co-hosted the largest junior basketball tournament in the world earlier this year. The Eltham Dandenong Junior Basketball Tournament took place from 26-29 January and was a tremendous success. 

The tournament has been a staple on the basketball calendar since 1974, when the first event was held at the Bulleen Basketball Centre in Sheahans Road – a small start to what was to become a huge enterprise. The competition caters to all levels of abilities for both girls and boys from under 12s through to under 20s. 

A total of 1,428 teams entered the competition in 2023, bouncing back to the massive numbers we have come to expect. Given the three-year break for interstate and international teams owing to Covid-19, this is a great result. In total, the tournament ran across 27 venues, 125 courts and featured more than 13,500 participants. Hundreds of teams came from outside Victoria, including teams from New Zealand and Singapore.

Photos by Lauri Jean

Eltham Wildcats CEO Connor Matthews credits the team of staff and volunteers behind the scenes for contributing to the success of the tournament.

“This event does not run itself and there is a special group of individuals who operate behind the scenes to make this happen. This involves a degree of commitment and sacrifice during the typical summer break that very few people would be willing to make. It is not abnormal for the cleaners of the stadium to be shocked as they arrive at 2 or 3 in the morning to find tournament workers still at their desk toiling away to make sure that event timelines are adhered to as expected.”

Matthews said: “Despite its size, the staff behind the scenes refuse to sacrifice quality for quantity. When you run an event of this magnitude, there are so many individuals that need to be recognised and too often their work can be taken for granted or go unnoticed. I would like to thank all the amazing people who helped in the success of the 2023 Eltham Dandenong Junior Basketball Tournament.”

The Eltham Wildcats had 82 teams that participated in various divisions of the tournament. In total, 13 Wildcats teams won their respective grand finals. Congratulations to the following teams on their success:

  • Girls 12.3
  • Girls 12.4
  • Girls 14.4
  • Girls 16.3
  • Boys 12.2
  • Boys 12.8
  • Boys 14.6
  • Boys 14.7
  • Boys 14.8
  • Boys 16.5
  • Boys 20.2
  • Domestic Boys 10C3
  • Domestic Boys 14.2
  • Domestic Boys 16.31

The Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club excels in providing opportunities, development and pathways for players, coaches, technical officials, and administrators within a community club. You can learn more at  www.elthamwildcats.com.au.