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Sports, arts and activities

Victorious girls basketball team in a league of their own

ACG Parnell College’s girls basketball team has absolutely knocked it out of the park this season, winning every single game and taking out first place in the Open B grade.

And what makes this fantastic result even more remarkable? Ten of the 12 players had never even played basketball before!

Sports Coordinator Steph Trowill and Coach Tane de Silva couldn’t be prouder.

“I couldn’t ask for anything more,” says Tane. “I wasn’t even sure we’d get the numbers for a girls team this year given all but two of our players graduated from ACG last year. When we finally got enough to submit a team at the eleventh hour, I went back and forth on even entering them into the competition, thinking they’d get blown out every game since the majority of them hadn’t played before.

“To win every game and top their grade is just outstanding, and even more impressive considering April, one of our two main players, only played one game this season due to injury.”

The season highlight was a one-point victory against St Cuthbert’s, who played Open A grade in 2019.

“I coached St Cuths up until the end of last year and knew my ACG team was the overwhelming underdog going into that match. It was unbelievably fulfilling to get such a close win.”

Tane attributes the team’s success in part to their coachability.

“This is important for any team in any sport, but especially one with so many new players. The girls worked hard in training, applied the things we’d practised to games, and responded well to any adjustments that needed to be made.”

What’s more, every player bought into the culture and always put the team first.

“We made it clear from the get-go that we’d run our offence through our two best players and that everyone else would contribute in supporting roles, whether it was rebounding, playing great defence, or diving on the floor to get a loose ball. It speaks volumes to the selflessness of this group that they were able to do that.”

Team captain Hannah Nguyen was worth her weight in gold, earning herself the trophy for ACG Parnell College’s most valuable basketball player for 2020 – the first female ever to receive the award.

“This is the first time anyone outside of the boys Under 19 A team has won the trophy, but Hannah was the captain and best player of the most successful basketball team in the school this year. It was a very easy decision!”

Tane described Hannah as calm, supportive and an outstanding leader.

“On the court, she is a prolific scorer and often played full 40-minute games without getting subbed off for a single second. She is a coach’s dream and just an A+ human being in general.”

For Hannah, it was unexpected recognition that topped off her best season ever.

“I still cannot believe that I’m the first girl to get my name on that trophy,” she says. “It’s an amazing feeling. Firstly, because our team never imagined we’d do so well, and secondly because it proves a girl can take out a trophy that has historically always gone to boys. I hope this inspires younger girls to always work hard and do their best on and off the court because that hard work will pay off.”

Tane hopes these stellar achievements will encourage more of ACG Parnell College’s female students to consider basketball.

“What would make me even happier than an undefeated season is seeing the number of girls playing grow as it has with the boys in the time I’ve been here. It would be awesome to have a junior team as well as a U19 team.”

Given his track record for success, the chances are high. In the five seasons that Tane has been coaching basketball at ACG Parnell College, he has developed an enviable programme with a strong culture.

“When I started here there were no development pathways in place, and sometimes we’d have to forfeit games because we didn’t have enough players. Today we have our first team playing in an A grade competition (U19 boys), we have off-season training twice a week in terms one and four, and we have more players turning up to trial for sides than there are available places. We still have a way to go, but I’m thrilled with the progress we’ve made.”