NBL1 season ‘subbed out’

Matt Sutton, Tom Kosch Dsc 5032 TBW Newsgroup
SEASON BLOCKED: Mount Gambier Pioneers women’s coach Matt Sutton and president Tom Kosch are disappointed to hear the 2020 NBL1 season has been cancelled entirely amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has swept the world. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

THE Mount Gambier Pioneers’ debut in the 2020 NBL1 South national basketball competition has effectively ended.

All three competitions – NBL1 Central, North and South – have been cancelled for the 2020 season.

It comes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to cause chaos in everyday life around the globe.

It was an expected decision for Pioneers’ president Tom Kosch, but not one he hoped to hear.

“Obviously it is the outcome we all thought would happen,” Kosch said.

“It is one of those things – we maybe have to wait now until 2021 to make our debut in the big league.”

Import players were recently sent back to their home country or told not to come, while other Australians were sent home or again, did not make the trip to Mount Gambier as the coronavirus continued to spread through the nation.

Kosch said there was some talk about restructuring the competition for later in the year, but he was not confident that could be achieved.

“There is talk about possible modification later on, but we have no idea when that would be happening or if it would be feasible for regional clubs,” he said.

“For the Victorian clubs it might be achievable, maybe play a couple of games a week with limited travel, but I just do not know if the clubs would really have an appetite for it when the time comes.”

Kosch said all clubs in the competition had essentially gone to no income overnight, as is the case with so many other businesses across Australia.

After a tough 18 months of rebuilding following the collapse of the SEABL competition, the Pioneers have certainly done it hard.

Kosch said the club’s future was a concern, but there seems to be plenty of enthusiasm to clear yet another hurdle.

“The concern for the club is ultimately the sustainability going forward,” he said.

“We get such great support from our local community and we are 80pc funded by our sponsors.

“We have a really loyal business community who continue to fund our basketball club year in, year out.

“It is concerning for our viability in the future, but we know the community, through the global events of COVID-19, will also suffer.”

Kosch said the club was determined to work hard with its sponsors to continue into the future.

“Our sponsors have been particularly loyal through what has been a difficult 18 months,” he said.

“Over the 30 years of our club we have had sponsors who have been there for all of those 30 years.

“We will engage with them, work with them and be creative about the future and the way forward for our basketball club.”

Kosch said quite simply without the support of the community and those sponsors, the club would not exist.

“I would like to thank our sponsors and the local community,” he said.

“I know we were all excited to see our One Forty One and Castec Rural Pioneers hit the court in 2020.

“We will do everything in our power to return beyond that.

“We will now get back to work and try to guarantee the future of our basketball club.”

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