EXCITING OPPORTUNITY: New Ipswich Force state league basketball men's coach Chris Riches.
EXCITING OPPORTUNITY: New Ipswich Force state league basketball men's coach Chris Riches. Franca Tigani

New Ipswich head coach to focus on community

HAVING a diverse basketball and teaching background, Chris Riches is confident he's served his apprenticeship to coach at state league level.

However, the latest person to be appointed an Ipswich head coach has plenty of his own ideas, including a stronger community focus through promoting youth.

Riches especially enjoys giving under 21 players the chance to step up and be rewarded for their efforts.

That's why the newly-appointed Ipswich Force men's Queensland Basketball League head coach embraces his role.

"It's an exciting opportunity to kick on and I suppose represent that local area,'' the Ipswich State High School HPE teacher said.

"It's one of those things where we've been living here for eight years now and we've become part of the community. Not only through basketball but through teaching in the local community.''

Riches is married to Leigh, who is also a school teacher.

The Coalfalls-based couple have children Abraham, 6, and Solomon, 4.

"You're part of more sporting associations and schools and different things like that so the opportunity to represent Ipswich is a big honour,'' he said.

Riches, 37, replaces Mick Conlon who devoted considerable energy in recent years recruiting players to the Force program.

Having been Conlon's assistant last season, Riches is keen to bring on Ipswich's most promising talent.

"It's more a case of evolution rather than revolution,'' he said.

"What I'd like to see is we really focus on that junior development.

"It's about us building on the solid base that people prior to me have been working so hard to do in both retaining players from our local area but also rewarding those young guys.''

Riches has enjoyed success the past two seasons coaching the Ipswich under 21 team that was undefeated this year, taking out the BQJBC title.

He'll continue working with Ipswich's under 21s during the state league off-season.

He wants Ipswich- produced young athletes to set a goal of progressing into the state league ranks.

"So they can actually work towards representing at a higher level for their local association in front of their families, in front of their local community,'' he said.

"That's a really big thing for local associations, getting back to that grassroots and working to achieve those things so people stay in our community and realise that they can do a lot in Ipswich.

"That's a key goal for me - giving the opportunity to those young guys that have done so well for the association over a number of years.

"They need some opportunities there - week in, week out - where they can really sink their teeth into things and start to push it along.''

Riches said that's why he enjoys working with under 21 players.

"They're putting a lot of bits and pieces together,'' Riches said. "That's a lot more challenging as a coach. Those type of things are really interesting for me.''