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Registrations are now open for the new three-tiered ‘MEBA Head Start’ basketball program at Nunawading Stadium, Melbourne. The introductory skills program starts in term four and focuses on player development to prepare 6 to 12 year-olds for club basketball.

Head Start uses an altered set of rules allowing the programs’ coaches to be more hands-on than other programs and tailor sessions to each individual’s ability. Coaches from the stadium’s previous Spook Hoops program such as Peter Kotaridis are pleased with the changes.

Coach Peter Kotaridis

“At the moment there are a lot of kids who are better than the other kids and they tend to hog the ball a bit too much,” he said.

“The three tiered program is better because it breaks them up into different skill levels and that way each kid can feel comfortable in the team they get assigned to.”

Coaches grade children into Aussie Hoops, Rookie or Club Ready tiers based on their current skill level, with the aim to advance each tier until they are ready to graduate from the program. Similar to martial arts, each tier has its own coloured uniform and title that both encourages and rewards players for their efforts as they progress.

Program Director Lyndon Dale has designed this process as an entirely positive experience, each aspect of Head Start is focused on fun and improvement. It is replacing the Spook Hoops and Pink Ball competitions which were awarded Best Junior Program by Basketball Victoria earlier in the year. Despite initial concerns about increased fees and the mandatory assessment of their children, many parents have voiced praise to Dale for shifting focus away from the competition of ladders and grand finals.

Nunawading Spectres Import and Brazilian National League player Cicero Gonzaga has been coaching with the stadium since arriving in Australia and sees Head Start as a great learning environment.

Cicero Gonzaga with a team from Vermont

“I love it, I feel like this is something that I will probably do after I finish my basketball career,” he said.

“We work with a lot of specific skills and we help the kids so when they go to clubs they already have knowledge of the basketball game. If you come here it would definitely help you a lot, so I recommend it”

Head Start is already receiving a high number of registrations and Nunawading Stadium is pleased by the evident demand. All current coaching staff from the award winning Pink Ball and Spook Hoops will be continuing with Head Start next term.

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