Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)
Great Night of Action at Ipswich Basketball; Association Deserved Winner of State Award
SEEING Ipswich receive well-deserved recognition as the best basketball association in Queensland was pleasing.
However, it's clear Ipswich basketball officials were honoured for more than their flood recovery efforts and junior team successes.
For a largely volunteer organisation, they put on an enjoyable night of sporting entertainment at their home base Co Ipswich's Cotton On Foundation Stadium at Booval.
Watching Ipswich play long-time rival Toowoomba in the men's and women's state league games last Saturday highlighted why basketball continues to be an important regional sport.
Former Olympic and international player Shane Heal added an aura of stardom to the night games, especially as he coached proceedings during his Ipswich team's 80-75 victory.
But what was more satisfying was the relaxed environment at Ipswich stadium.
Before and after the game, Heal welcomed fans and chatted freely to spectators, especially young players.
Despite years of being one of Australia's best-known sportsmen, Heal displayed down-to-earth qualities that we need more of in sport.
Winning the match was serious business and Heal was heavily involved, issuing astute instructions during the play and time-outs.
But he cast a happy and friendly figure outside his match duties.
It was fitting that Heal chose Ipswich to be a state league coach in such a positive arena.
Inside Ipswich stadium are plenty of good viewing platforms to enjoy a night at the basketball.
It was also fantastic to see an Australian flag hanging below the scoreboard and our national anthem played before each state league game.
Such traditions are important in sport.
Few, if any, regional outdoor sports play our national song before matches, unless it's a special occasion. …