Wheelchair basketball season opener at SUSAC

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The 2012 Women’s National Basketball League season starts this weekend, with the Sydney Uni Sports & Aquatic Centre to host the first tranche of matches from 16-18 March.

This weekend is only chance to see the girls at home this season, and the host club, Southern Design Sydney Uni Wheelchair Flames, will be looking to start the season on a winning note with the aim of contesting their 13th straight final.

Two-time Paralympian Sarah Stewart, who heads the Flames roster, said the National League had been moved forward this year because of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London in August and September.

The National League will run from March until June, with five cluster rounds followed by the finals in Dandenong.

“Sydney University Flames have morphed and changed over the years, but we have still won a record nine out of the last 10 League championships,” Sarah said.

“And our team has been in every final in the history of the league – so if we haven’t won the championship we have been the runner-up.

“But more than the on-court success, we are proud that we have been able to help so many women in wheelchairs get out and about in the world and experience sport at the highest level.”

The Wheelchair Flames have expanded their squad to 13, with the addition of some junior and regional players, for the 2012 season.

The Flames roster includes five-time Paralympian Liesl Tesch, dual Paralympian Sarah Stewart, and one-time Paralympian Katie Hill, along with established juniors Rachel Coady from Canberra, Caitlin de Wit from the Central Coast, and Jess Pellow from Wagga Wagga, who all represented Australia in the Under-25 Women’s World Championships in Canada in 2011.

During the 2011 season the Wheelchair Flames also introduced Amanda Norman from Wagga Wagga, and Fiona Johnstone from Canberra, to the National League.

“This year we have junior athletes – Catherine Nelson from Taree and Mikaela Dingley from Canberra – joining our squad,” Sarah said.

The Wheelchair Flames will open their season against The Be Active Western Stars (from Western Australia) at SUSAC at 6pm this Friday.

They’ll back up for a second round match against Minecraft Comets (Queensland) at 6pm on Saturday, and complete the weekend with a home-town derby against North Sydney Bears, from noon on Sunday.

The following round of matches featuring the Southern Design Sydney Uni Wheelchair Flames will be hosted by the North Sydney Bears, at Norths stadium at Crows Nest from April 13-15.

The cost of entry is just a gold coin donation.

For a full schedule of this weekends games, please click here.