By Hayley Wildes
When you’re a member of a sporting club, there’s always a sense of pride when you’re able to represent that club on the national stage.
That’s exactly what the Pakenham Warriors Under 14 boys will be doing when they compete at the National Junior Classic at Dandenong Stadium this weekend.
What makes this achievement even more special is the fact these talented boys will be the first Pakenham team, of any age-group, to ever compete at the headline event – which sees the best 128 club teams in Australia battle it out for bragging rights.
The Warriors qualified for the National Junior Classic, which starts on Saturday and concludes on Queen’s Birthday Monday, thanks to their stellar VJBL Under 14 Victorian Championship form.
A seven-game winning streak to begin the season saw the Warriors take over games with their strong defence and ability to get out and run on offence.
When the Warriors get stops and push the pace, they are a handful – wreaking havoc and often leaving their opponents gasping for air.
The team described their seven-game winning streak as a ‘confidence-booster’ and it gave them the belief they can match it against the best.
The Warriors will battle it out in the Under 14 boy’s tournament against 15 other teams, with the Warriors drawn to Group B – alongside Nunawading, Warrnambool and Blacktown.
Whilst achieving a first for their club, the Warriors are not satisfied with just making up the numbers; they want to bring home the silverware and put Pakenham on the map.
Compared to other powerhouse associations such as Dandenong, Knox and Nunawading, Pakenham – whilst it is growing exponentially – is still considered a smaller association.
You’d be a fool to think that means they’ll be a walkover though. The boys are ready to take it right up to the big associations and showcase that typical Warrior spirit.
Coach Brett Small is extremely proud of his 10-man squad and preached the importance of making the most of this opportunity.
“It’s all about the opportunity.” He said.
“There are some players who score more, others who rebound, but it’s all about the team and letting them use their individual skills within the system.”
The squad is filled with boys who have come up through the Pakenham Warriors system; showcasing the association’s ability to develop and foster local talent.
With plenty to play for and the entire Pakenham association behind them, this squad is destined to make some noise and show everyone what Pakenham basketball is all about.