Departing on February 8, the Australian Gliders will head to Japan for the Osaka Cup from February 9-14, a tournament intended to be an opportunity for new players to announce themselves within the Gliders squad.

A number of senior players will be taking time off during the tournament which sees Australia pitted against Japan, Great Britain and Germany but this opens the door for the next generation of Gliders.

The Osaka Cup is an important tournament for the Gliders as they build towards the 2016 NWBL season and then onto next year’s World Championship qualifiers.

“Osaka is the first step for the Gliders to regain their position as one of the top teams in women’s wheelchair basketball,” said head coach Tom Kyle.

“Having missed out on Rio, the girls are very keen to demonstrate the Gliders will not simply lie down but fight back to become the force we know them as.”

The team will be led by Sarah Stewart who is returning after a break from the squad last year while Ella Sabljak, Amber Merritt, Georgia Munro-Cook and Leanne Del Toso were a part of the side that competed in Japan last October.

“To supplement this, up and coming talent in Hannah Dodd, Natalie Alexander and Jess Cronje, all of who have toured to Japan previously, will join the team.”

Rounding out the team are Victorian rookies Isabel Martin and Alice Hammond.

“I am excited with the addition of Isabel- a new 1 point player. She is a mature girl for her age and shows a lot of talent even though she has had limited opportunities to date. Alice comes to us after a distinguished career in the VBL. She is a pure shooter and is exactly the type of player we will look for moving forward.”

The Gliders first game will be against Germany on Thursday February 11 at 3pm. They will then play Great Britain at noon on Friday February 12 and Japan at 3.30pm later that day. (All times are AEDT.)

The third-placed playoff (noon) and gold medal games (3.30pm) will then be held on Sunday February 13.

The Osaka Cup Australian Gliders team: Natalie Alexander, Jess Cronje, Leanne Del Toso, Hannah Dodd, Alice Hammond, Isabel Martin, Amber Merritt, Georgia Munro-Cook, Ella Sabljak and Sarah Stewart.

Head Coach: Tom Kyle
Assistant Coach: David Gould
Manager: Jane Kyle
Physio: Anna De Araugo