Rockwheelers crowned Northern Challenge champs
BASKETBALL: THE Frenchville Rockwheelers have talent, determination and a source of strength that comes from their close bond and their community spirit.
"We're very supportive of each other on and off the court an most of us are close friends,” Rockwheelers' Paul Gooda said.
"We all mentor each other and give tips and tricks. We don't like any negativity, which helps with our morale in and out of games.”
Coming away from the Northern Challenge Wheelchair Basketball Competition on Sunday, the team defeated the Townsville Cyclones 20-15, securing their spot as 2018 champions.
The team won all six games in rounds one and two and four out of five games in round three and the finals.
During the competition, they battled it out with Mackay Machines, Townsville Cyclones and Cairns Hoopsnakes at the Townsville RSL Stadium.
"Considering our physical disabilities, to travel 720km in a mini bus, get up there and play like we did just speaks to our training regime, our fitness and our camaraderie,” Gooda said.
The Rockwheelers have a stellar record for wins over the past 15 years, taking out the championship for every year bar one.
"We train twice a week at Hegvold Stadium and a lot of us do extra training,” Gooda said.
"The only game we lost was to Mackay. It shook us up, got us talking and analysing where we went wrong with our coach, Jenny Anderson, and with her input, we were able to rally and remedy those gaps.
"We've always been a pretty tough team to begin with and our more experienced players help our less experienced and make sure they're having fun.
"That's our priority, to always have fun, and if we're not, something is wrong.”
Gooda said the team's strengths lie in their communication and their offensive tactics.
"Some of our guys have a certain whistle and you'll know where they are and where to pass to without looking when they whistle,” he said.
"You get to know everyone's little tricks and utilise them.”
The team started in 2002 as Frenchville Force, but in 2009 officially became affiliated with Frenchville Sports Club, and became known as the Rockwheelers.
"Jenny and our former regional development officer, Michael Oxley, paved the way for us,” Gooda said.
"Michael negotiated with Frenchville Sports Club to take us under their wing.
"We've been very lucky to have mentors like that who have done the hard yards to make it easier for us.”
Gooda said the nine-player team credits a lot of their success to the support of Frenchville Sports Club.
"Without them we wouldn't be able to go to these competitions,” he said.
"They pay for our travel and accommodation. They're an enormous help.”
The team has also been involved in community events like Rocky River Run and Challenge the Mountain.
"It's touching to see people rooting for us,” Gooda said.
"It's overwhelming. The people wishing you well when they're running past gives you strength.”
Gooda said the team is mindful of each other's weaknesses and strengths and believes being a team with physical disabilities brings them closer together than most.
"Having a physical disability and being in wheelchair, nobody knows what that's like unless they're in the same situation,” he said.
"Having like-minded friends and team-mates around you brings us together a lot more.
"We wheel that path together.”