Under the new hybrid structure, the CoE women’s program will contain a mix of young athletes, players with WNBL experience and senior players with Opals experience.
Headlining the 2014 scholarship athletes is Bendigo Spirit star Elyse Penaluna, who has battled serious injury over the past two years as she looks to return to the form that made her an Opals’ regular.
West Coast Waves centre Natalie Burton is relocating to Canberra to work with Joyce after forcing her way into the Opals squad during the Tour of China and FIBA Oceania Championships earlier this year.
Joining Penaluna and Burton in Canberra will be exciting young WNBL stars Stephanie Talbot, Carley Mijovic, Tessa Lavey, and Alicia and Keely Froling.
These players came through the AIS program before going on to play in the WNBL, with Talbot (2013) and Mijovic (2012) the winners of the past two Betty Watson WNBL Rookie of the Year awards.
Joyce said the change in philosophy reflected the need to provide support and development opportunities for talented athletes in the 19-26 age range, beyond their junior careers.
“When you’re looking to identifying future Opals, trying to identify those players at 16-to-18 years of age is really difficult,” Joyce said.
“We felt that some players, particularly tall players, develop later and this program provides an opportunity for players post junior basketball to be identified and hopefully expediate that transition to the Opals through their time at the CoE.”
Youngsters Stephanie Collins and Alexandra Sharp will be joined by Kristy Wallace, Anneli Maley and Chantel-Anais Horvat as part of the women’s program.
As part of his role as the Head of the CoE Women’s Program, Joyce will drive the direction of the technical curriculum, while taking a very hands-on role with the athletes, leading their day-to-day activities in conjunction with CoE Associate Coach Paul Goriss.
A focus on the future success of the Opals on the word stage has been a major factor in the development of the hybrid scholarship program, according to Joyce.
“If you look at the team that won bronze at the 2012 London Olympic Games and we take that team four years down the track to Rio in 2016, you would have 10 players over the age of 30,” Joyce said.
“We are in a situation where really need to think outside the box, be innovative and not rest on our laurels. We believe this approach can play a big part in ensuring the Opals are continuing to strive for success on the world stage.”
In Joyce’s absence due to national team duties, Goriss will assume the duties of coaching the players though their daily training schedule.
These scholarship holders will form the CoE women’s team that will compete in the 2014 SEABL season, with day-to-day Goriss to be the team’s Head Coach.
Joyce said the opportunity to play competitive games will play a significant role ensuring the athletes are working at a high-level day in, day out.
“There’s no accountability when you just train, when you play games it has a different impact – the attitude and accountability during training changes because each week there is an end result,” Joyce said.
“The SEABL competition will be a great opportunity for these athletes to put the work we do as part of the program into a game situation.”
Scholarship holders for the women’s program will begin their stay at the CoE following the 2014 Australian Development Camp in late January, with the remaining players to join the program at the completion of the 2013/14 WNBL season.
Basketball Australia would like to congratulate the athletes awarded scholarships for the 2014 CoE women’s program.
Basketball Australia National Centre of Excellence Women’s Program Scholarship Athletes 2014
Natalie Burton (WA)
Stephanie Collins (Vic)
Alicia Froling (Qld)
Keely Froling (Qld)
Chantel-Anais Horvat (Vic)
Tessa Lavey (Vic)
Anneli Maley (Vic)
Carley Mijovic (Vic)
Elyse Penaluna (Vic)
Alexandra Sharp (Vic)
Stephanie Talbot (SA)
Kristy Wallace (Qld)