QUEANBEYAN Basketball president Jan Browne says individual clubs should have greater discretion over player management after Queanbeyan was fined $300 by Basketball ACT for fielding 15-year-old Makayla Stein in the senior Canberra competition.
Basketball ACT’s bylaws require players still eligible to participate in the under-16s to receive special dispensation to compete in the open age ranks.
The policy is in place in order to protect young players from both the physical and mental rigours of stepping into senior competition too early.
But Browne said those decisions should be left in the hands of individual clubs, not with Basketball ACT.
‘‘Really that duty of care lies with the club,’’ she said. ‘‘It should be up to the club to ascertain if a player is capable of playing at that level.
‘‘How many players does Basketball ACT have playing in its competitions? They’re not going to know the capabilities of every player when they come in as well as their own clubs do.’’ The issue of underage players competing outside of their appropriate age group has been an ongoing dilemma for Basketball ACT in recent years.
Browne said Queanbeyan had sought permission from Basketball ACT for Stein to compete in the senior grade this season last December but had not received a reply before the match in question. The club is appealing the fine.
Queanbeyan was forced to call on the up-and-coming teenager in a State League match earlier this year after being left with just four fit players to take the court. Basketball ACT president Tony Jackson said the strict enforcement of age-grade barriers was a longstanding policy.
‘‘There’s certainly a duty of care element for us,’’ he said. ‘‘We can’t allow 15-year-olds and certainly not 14-year-olds to be competing against senior women who might be twice their age, twice their strength and twice their experience.
‘‘We don’t want to create a situation where a 15-year-old girl might be seriously injured or knocked around to an extent that could prevent them playing in the future.’’
‘‘Our Premier League competition is an open, adult competition designed ... to be the best level of basketball in the ACT. It’s not a development competition.’’
Jackson said outstanding players in the under-16s ranks were generally given permission to play in the under-19s competition. Queanbeyan however, does not have an under-19s side this season. Browne acknowledged the club’s lack of an under-19s outfit was less than ideal but denied the club was instead attempting to rush players into senior basketball too soon.
‘‘I think you’ll find if you talk to older elite players, they were all playing senior basketball by the time they were in under-16s,’’ she said.
‘‘I can understand with boys who are still growing at that age but most girls have matured physically by the time they’re 15.’’
‘We’ve got players who need to be playing morethan under-16s and they’re not able to compete at a higher level.’’