Newcastle Basketball juniors Chyra Evans and Michael Walker are preparing to represent Australia at the FIBA Under-15 Oceania Championships in Papua New Guinea next week.
The talented duo will compete in the five-day tournament at Port Moresby starting from Monday.
The championships are the first step for the Australian Sapphires (girls) and Crocs (boys) on their qualification pathway for the 2020 FIBA Under-17 World Cups.
They also present an opportunity for the players to impress ahead of the World Cup, which is the first junior players can compete in.
If the teams finish in the top four of the Oceania Championships, they will qualify for the Under-16 Asian Championships in 2019.
A top-four finish in that tournament would then secure a place at the Under-17 World Cup in 2020.
“Last campaign we were able to be the first to qualify through Asia, and this group will be the first to go through the new three-year cycle,” Boys head coach Justin Schueller said.
“To be able to get more international games into our athletes at a younger age assists us in preparing for our ultimate goal of success at a World Championship. International reps cannot be under estimated for these young athletes.”
Both the boys and girls teams will take on New Zealand, Guam and Samoa in the group stage.
A selection of Hunter athletes competed at the Athletics NSW relays at the weekend.
An under-18 girls throwing team, consisting of consisted of Bella Ferfoglia, Sophie Sorensen, Ashlyn Blackstock and Imogen Petrie, won the U/18 girls shot put and U/18 girls discus, along with the open women’s discus.
Sarah Schiffman, Sarah Pickering, Eleanor Barnett and Montana Monk won the under-16 4 x 1500 metres.
New rugby comp
Hunter Junior Rugby Union will open a new pathway for young female players with the introduction of an new competition in 2019.
A 10-a-side competition for girls in the under-13, under-15 and under-17 age groups will kick off in May next year.
“This is exciting news for HJRU and local clubs which have been seeking an opportunity for young girls interested in playing rugby union,” HJRU President Julien Castaldi said.
“Under existing competition rules, girls up to the age of 12 years can play mixed gender rugby but there has been little pathway to continue their development and great enthusiasm for the code in later years.”
The 10-a-side player format, which has been designed to assist clubs with recruitment in the first year, will start on May 18 and continue for 11 rounds before grand finals in each age group.