21 June 2012
of the Legislative Council
LAUNCESTON TORNADOES - SUCCESS STORY
FINCH - Madam President,
in November last year, the Launceston women's basketball club, the
Tornadoes, was in financial difficulties and on the brink of closure.
It was disappointing because that club had been going for 17 years
and had become pivotal for women's basketball development in the
Launceston and northern Tasmanian region. In fact, they had been
national premiers of the SEABL - South East Australian Basketball
League - back in the early days of their establishment.
community, to their credit, was determined to prevent its demise. A
businessman, Mark Thurlow, was one of those who stepped in to save
the Tornadoes. He was reading the newspaper, saw something about the
closure of the Tornadoes and said this cannot happen. He made a few
phone calls. He was responsible for the restructure of the Launceston
Football Club. I joined him as a colleague there and it was a great
journey. Over a period he took the club to a position where last year
they won not only the senior statewide league premiership but also
the under-23s and the colts as well, along with many other awards.
Much of that credit must go to Mark Thurlow.
said, this is not going to happen; we need to keep this team going
for the sake of the development of girls and young women in the
basketball community. One of the other community leaders, Heath Butt,
was the interim chairman at that stage and he was equally as
determined to keep it going. The club was then restructured under the
banner of the Northern Tasmanian Amateur Basketball Association and
we started raising money. A new board was announced in January this
year, and that board included Alana Fulton, Craig Perkins, who is the
vice-chairman, Colleen McGann from St Luke's Health, Michele Gibbins
from the Institute of Sport, David Daking, a retired financial
adviser, then Heath Butt, Mark Thurlow and last, by all means least,
my very good self.
did involve a lot of effort. The Launceston Tornadoes board created a
business plan that resulted, among other things, in the approval of a
grant of $15 000 from the Launceston City Council. I have just been
talking with the member for Mersey about the difficulty of councils
being able to support sporting clubs and sporting individuals. I know
that the member for Launceston was part of the panel of councillors
who made the decision on the grant. They did give us that grant with
strings attached, and they were: the linkage of the funding to the
delivery of measurable targets established to market Launceston as a
tourist destination in all the activities undertaken by the
Tornadoes; the club also continuing to compete in the elite South
East Australian Basketball League division; and the club
demonstrating its commitment to provide the pathways to local
talented women basketball players. Those strings, I suppose, reflect
a heated debate that occurred in the Launceston council, but that is
another story. The aldermen decided to help support the Launceston
Tornadoes in this instance.
others - it was an interesting story - Bec Walsh of the Sports Arena
called around Heath Butt when he was interim chairman and said she
had a donation to make to the Tornadoes. She presented him with a
cheque for $20 000 to help the club . That is amazing in these
economic times, that she recognised the importance of retaining the
Tornadoes for the community. We were able to get Europcar and
Bendigo Bank to come on as major sponsors as well.
went into a debt this year of $55 000. It will be wiped off by the
time we start the 2013 season, as the club's chairman, Craig Perkins,
said a few weeks ago in a media statement:
in a position now which is really positive in that we know that we
can get through the remainder of the year in a sound financial
position and we can start thinking about 2013. To start planning the
structures including the board, the playing group and coaching and
formalising junior development for next season.
limited the number of imported players and we think that we've got
that mix really well, giving some quality players an opportunity to
share their skills but also giving local talent the chance to play.
talent, too, includes those from the north-west coast as well, so it
really is about the northern half of Tasmania.
Tornadoes team members have been buoyed by the community and
financial support. They have had some recent success on a road trip
over the weekend, and those who know basketball will know that it is
very difficult to win two away trips. We have done that with the
team and we face Bendigo at home this week. However they finish this
season they know the future of the club is secure and they can
concentrate on their game. Most importantly, the Launceston
Tornadoes basketball club has survived and will continue to provide
opportunities for talented girls and women basketballers in northern