Neve Tratt and Claire Hargreaves head off today to represent NSW as player and coach at the Australian Under-14 Basketball Championships. Photo: BELINDA SOOLESTAR junior basketballer Neve Tratt will spend the next week in Townsville taking on the best under-14 players in the country, and while she will be a long way from home she will have a familiar face helping her.
Tratt is a member of the NSW squad that will contest the Australian School Sport National Championships in Townsville, with the team to be mentored by Dubbo-based coach Claire Hargreaves.
The pair have been working hard in recent times, with their two-hour weekly sessions complemented by Tratt’s individual training and Hargreaves’ off-court preparation and planning.
Their involvement in a national tournament is a further boost for the growing Dubbo junior association, which is developing quite a production line of talented youngsters.
The tournament kicks off tomorrow and while it’s never easy taking on the best players in Australia, Hargreaves is confident her side can perform well.
“Last year we won bronze and I think this year we probably have a better squad assembled,” she said.
“We’ve got five players from the country and five from the metro areas, and the thing we really have this year is height.
“Neve is quite tall (186cm) and we have three girls at that height or just under. In the past we’ve had good depth at guard but this year we have height and that is going to help us a lot.”
Tratt gained selection in the squad after a standout performance at the PSSA Championships at Albury earlier in the year, and Hargreaves admitted she took a great deal of satisfaction in watching her protege’s progression.
“Neve has been playing for two or three years now and she has really found her feet,” Hargreaves said.
“When we first got her she hated being the tall kid and things were a bit awkward for her but the amount of improvement she’s shown in that time has been amazing.
“I still think she’s got a lot of growing to do, she’s only 12 years old, but we’ve harnessed that height and it’s turned into a major weapon for her on the court and she’s learned to embrace it a bit.”
Putting together a squad that is separated by distance hasn’t been easy, but Hargreaves got the players together during the most recent school holidays for a three-day camp to help prepare them for this week’s tournament.
“That camp helped introduce the players into the squad and work on a few things,” Hargreaves said.
“Neve and I have been working together for two hours every week and she does her own practice a few times a week on top of that so she will be well-prepared.”
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