For more than twenty years I was associated with Albert Park Basketball Stadium. It was started in the 1950’s as a way to promote the sport in Australia. American soldiers had brought the sport here in the 1940s and European migrants, fleeing the devastation of WW2 formed the backbone of the sport for many years. The late Ken Watson and his wife Betty were the driving force.
My family and I arrived at Albert Park in the early 1990s. Our sons were keen to stretch their skills and I quickly found myself coaching for the famed Melbourne Tigers, the most successful junior basketball club in Australia. I loved it and so did the boys.
As the years went by we got to know many of the characters around the game.
Even when the government decided to pull down the amazing old basketball complex and build a shiny new soulless complex the game continued on. I took up refereeing which extended my time long after our boys outgrew junior basketball.
The bloke in the photo was around for all of this time. He came from one of those war-torn countries and when this photo was taken, his hip was so bad that he could barely walk but he turned up every Thursday night to coach his team. They were a pleasure to referee. They were tough but they were successful even though they were not young. They did it with skill and knowledge and discipline. Their coach had a lot to do with their success.