Gold for Attard’s Vics

Winning Victorian team (supplied)

Harper Sercombe

Under the guidance of Melton coach Emily Attard the Victorian Ivor Burge women’s team won a national basketball title.

Attard only recently took control of the Ivor Burge side, a competition for people with an intellectual disability. The 22-year-old first joined the side as an assistant coach in 2022 as a 20-year-old.

The side played their gold medal game against New South Wales, winning by a comfortable 22 points. With seasoned campaigners Montana Haag and Mia Wilson top scoring for the Vics with 17 and 15 points respectively.

Attard, who runs Specialist Hoops in Melton and Bacchus Marsh, said she was thrilled with the result.

“It was an unreal experience, it’s not everyday you get the opportunity to coach a nationals team, especially to take them to a finals, let alone a gold medal, so it was an unreal experience overall,” she said.

“I was really hesitant about applying for the head coach role this year, for myself personally, I thought I needed a bit more experience but it was great to have the trust of Basketball Victoria to be able to encourage me to take the role and really step up my coaching and my knowledge and put it to good use.

“The disability and inclusion space is a huge thing for myself, and being able to coach athletes with an intellectual disability or an intellectual integration is a huge thing to be able to work with those athletes and let them thrive at the highest level they possibly can here in Australia.”

After winning the same competition last season, the Victorians were out to defend their title, with a different looking team line-up.

One player who didn’t change was Haag, who won her second consecutive most valuable player award.

“Montana works really on and off the court to be the best player she can be and she’s done really well over the past 12 months to continue her playing whether that’s been through the Big V competition as well as representing Australia at the global games,” Attard said.

With no major competitions scheduled until the next Ivor Burge championships, Attard said she is committed to maintaining the team synergy up through a new program in conjunction with Basketball Victoria.

“My next step with the Victorian girls will be trying to implement a state development program with Basketball Victoria,” she said.

“Try to implement a program where they can continue to develop their skills throughout the year so they don’t get forgotten about until the next championships.”

It wasn’t just the Ivor Burge women’s side who took out gold for Victoria with the men’s Ivor Burge side winning as well as both men’s and women’s under 20s teams.

“Victoria has always been known as one of the strong states,” Attard said.

“The past few years with COVID we’ve had our ups and downs but it was really nice to be able to have all four teams playoff in the gold medal game and win as well as our two second teams for the under 20s to play off in the qualifying finals.

“It just really shows that basketball in Victoria has a stronghold and it’s really continuing its legacy of being one of the strongest states.”