Ipswich basketball is set to reach new heights this year with the NBL1 North competition and some important upgrades at the Booval stadium.
Ipswich basketball is set to reach new heights this year with the NBL1 North competition and some important upgrades at the Booval stadium.

Terrific teamwork in major Ipswich basketball upgrade

IPSWICH Basketball Association president Chris Riches summed it up perfectly when he declared "everything is go, go, go right now''.

New Ipswich junior and senior competitions are starting and Force squads are stepping up their preparations for the upcoming NBL1 North men's and women's series.

Force women's coach Brady Walmsley has been actively working with his squad in recent weeks.

Riches, who is also Ipswich Force men's head coach, is getting his group together this week to launch their pre-season build-up for the exciting NBL1 North competition.

After making the semi-finals in last year's Queensland State League, the Force men's and women's teams have high hopes in this year's major competition.

While all that is ramping up, Riches was delighted with another beneficial project at Ipswich basketball's Booval headquarters.

Some terrific teamwork between major sponsor RPQ Pty Ltd, Ipswich City Council and Ipswich Basketball Association (IBA) officials has allowed a vital carpark upgrade to be completed.

The $30,000 project will provide more car park spaces in a secure space at JBS Arena.

"There were a number of bits and pieces to do it but its taken about 12 months worth of work to come around,'' Riches said.

He said RPQ (a road construction company with a head office in Ipswich) played a key role in supporting the project.

Riches also acknowledged Ipswich City Council which contributed a $15,000 grant to the important facility upgrade.

IBA injected funds into the upgrade that provides a welcome boost coming into a new season.

"It's helped in a number of different ways,'' Riches said.

"On site, we've only ever had about 11 carparks on our own property. This new carpark adds another 31 to that.

"It's pretty significant.

"We've also got, as part of this project, another grant to actually put security fencing around the carpark.''

POWERHOUSE AIMS: Ipswich Basketball maps out future expansion

Ipswich Basketball Association president Chris Riches. Picture: Franca Tigani
Ipswich Basketball Association president Chris Riches. Picture: Franca Tigani

Riches said a level, sealed and enclosed carpark with lighting and improved water drainage was a major boost for a new year.

"The back area now will be secure,'' he said.

"Also, because of our COVID restrictions, we actually use that carpark as part of our exit strategy for the stadium.''

The association's four courts have been resurfaced heading into another huge year of basketball.

The improvements come as three weeks of junior grading have started.

Riches said early indications were the junior competition had already grown by 10 teams.

The Ipswich Force basketball team and coach Chris Riches that qualified for the 2020 Queensland State League playoffs. The team was joined by major backer James Long, of 4 Hearts.
The Ipswich Force basketball team and coach Chris Riches that qualified for the 2020 Queensland State League playoffs. The team was joined by major backer James Long, of 4 Hearts.

The Ipswich Force men's team is about to begin training at Ipswich Grammar School, leading into the NBL1 North series scheduled to start in May.

Riches was confident of keeping the core of his side that built some fine momentum, qualifying for last year's Queensland State League semi-finals.

Having starred for Ipswich in last year's QSL series, Brisbane Bullets enforcer Nathan Sobey has played vital roles in his NBL team's recent wins.

Riches was pleased to see Sobey continuing where he left off for the Force.

"It's absolutely amazing,'' he said. "The last two wins that they've got, he's been instrumental in those and just doing a phenomenal job.''

Basketball fanatic Riches was also delighted to see Ipswich product Matt Hodgson back with the Bullets and regaining his form after some injury issues.

Brisbane Bullets basketballer Nathan Sobey playing for Ipswich Force in the 2020 Queensland State League competition.
Brisbane Bullets basketballer Nathan Sobey playing for Ipswich Force in the 2020 Queensland State League competition.

In other recent news, two key IBA appointments have been made.

Joseph Gonzales is head coach for the Ipswich Force QSL2 men's side this year.

He has coaching representative and private school teams experience in Queensland and NSW.

Gonzales was previously the head coach at a Youth League Men's level for three years in NSW.

Gavin De La Cruz has been appointed QSL2 women's head coach for 2021.

He has a diverse knowledge of basketball.