Changing of the guard

Sophie Byrnes, Picture Shawn Smits

Tara Murray

It’s a changing of the guard for Hume City Broncos in the Big V women’s state championship division.

A perennial finalist and premiership contender, the Broncos have this season focused on youth and players who have come through the system.

Broncos coach Dee Butler said while it was a younger looking side, the season presented a lot of opportunities.

“It’s very different and also a great thing for the club,” she said.

“There’s lots of development opportunities for the younger athletes coming through the system.

“It’s a bit of a changing of the guard happening at the moment.

“Most clubs go through it at some stage. Off the back of COVID, we just want our athletes to be happy and back playing basketball.”

With no imports this season due to the borders being closed, the Broncos are loaded with home grown talent.

The club has also lost star guard Nicole Zammit, who has retired.

Butler said the loss of Zammit was a big one, and the club is looking to honour her later in the season.

But Zammit’s retirement would give others the opportunity to step up.

Co-captain Sophie Byrnes is one of those stepping up.

“Sophie has picked up the reins,” Butler said. “With Nicole around, she didn’t has as much responsibility.

“It’s great for her leadership and development.”

Selena Wawezyniak has been named the other co-captain of the side in her first season at the club. Butler said Wawezyniak was experienced at this level and fitted well in the group.

Other players to watch for this season include Ellen Wright, Hailey Wynd and Leilani Siamoa.

“Ellen Wright has established herself in the group,” Butler said.

“Hailey Wynd has come from Whittlesea, which is a great opportunity for her to take that next step. She is adjusting to play senior basketball.

“Leilani Siamoa had a year off for uni and has come back into the group in great shape. It’s exciting to see the development at the moment and she’s one of our most improved.”

Tashia Overby, Georgia Keighran and Charlotte Lord are three youngsters who are playing across both the women’s and youth league’s women’s teams this season.

The Broncos sit 1-4 after losing to McKinnon 77-72 on Saturday night.

Butler said while winning was important, success would also be measured in other ways this year.

“I’m so competitive, that I still want to win,” she said.

“There are benefits to developing juniors. With there still some COVID-19 doubt about this year, the club has taken some leadership with its direction.

“We want to win as many games as possible, but it’s about doing it the right way.

“We might not be successful on the ladder, but we’ll look at success in other areas as well.”

The Broncos men’s side sits 2-3 after beating McKinnon one weekend, 106-86.