Surf program safe but start delayed

Dixon Park Beach Hunter academy of sport surfing squad in 2006, Picture Dean OslandHUNTER Academy of Sport chief executive Brett O’Farrell has moved to allay fears the group’s long-running surfing development program has been dropped.
Nanjing Night Net

Several members of the surfing community contacted the Herald to raise concerns about the apparent axing of the sport from the academy. However, O’Farrell said surfing was among four programs which had been delayed following a review of all 28 development squads.

‘‘In all, we’ve gone to the governing body to look at dates to make sure we are relevant in the respective pathway and calendar,’’ O’Farrell said. ‘‘We just found in a couple of sports that we’ve had to make changes to make sure we have that meaningful place in the sporting calendar, and we are really comfortable with that.

‘‘It’s just a realignment of dates and a postponement. But it’s not just surfing. Water polo, touch and BMX are in the same boat.’’

O’Farrell said another change was the merging of three lawn bowls programs into one.

The surfing program has typically started in July but O’Farrell said ‘‘state selections were completed before the program started’’ and ‘‘we should be peaking for this time of year’’.

He said the academy was working with Surfing NSW to set a new start date for the program, which has helped the likes of two-time Surfest pro junior Jake Sylvester and world qualifying series No.6-ranked Ryan Callinan.

‘‘It’s a great program and we’ve had some pretty good success,’’ O’Farrell said. ‘‘We just want to realign with state governing bodies and work within the official pathways, which is what the academy does.’’

He said surfers in the previous squad would be offered coaching in a group setting under the academy coach until the new program started.

■ Newcastle Hunters will hope history repeats when they co-host the 2016 Australian under-14 boys’ and girls’ basketball club championships.

Basketball Australia announced last Thursday that Newcastle and Maitland would stage the tournament from September 26 to October 1 next year.

It will be the first time the boys’ and girls’ tournaments will be held in the same region.

The last time the boys’ championships were held at Broadmeadow was 1990, and Newcastle lifted the trophy. Maitland last hosted the girls’ championships in 2002.

‘‘It is a fantastic result not just for the promotion of basketball in Newcastle and Maitland but also for tourism, local councils, small businesses and the sporting community in general,’’ Newcastle Basketball general manager Neil Goffet said.

‘‘This is the result of a lot of hard work over the last couple of years to build the association back to where it can secure events like this now and in the future.’’

Maitland Basketball general manager Amy McGregor was excited at the prospect of having both tournaments under the same regional banner.

Newcastle have qualified for this year’s national under-14 girls’ championships to be held at Terrigal from September 28 to October 3 but missed out on the boys’ championships in Perth on the same dates. Maitland did not qualify for either tournament.

■ Newcastle Hunter Oztag is seeking registrations for its junior summer competitions.

Divisions for under 8s through to under 18s will be held Wednesday evenings from September to December at Waratah Park.

Team and individual registrations will be taken this Thursday and on August 20 from 6pm to 7pm at Hamilton North Bowling Club. Oztag is a form of non-tackling rugby league featuring teams of eight players.

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