WHEN Mal Randall helped get the Beavers Basketball Club off the ground in 1958, it was to fill a bye in the local under-18 boys competition.
“I never thought it would grow into what it’s become. Never in a million years,” Randall said.
Yet, sixty years later, the club has 38 junior and senior teams and has produced a current Bendigo Braves captain and a handful of Australian representatives among thousands to graduate from its ranks.
That history will be celebrated on Saturday night with a function at the Bendigo Stadium, coinciding with the Bendigo Braves’ double-header with Launceston and North West Tasmania.
Randall coached the first Beavers team, which quickly grew to several teams playing at the YMCA Stadium in Mundy Street during the 1960s.
When basketball in Bendigo moved to its new home at Bendigo Stadium in 1976 after the amalgamation of the men’s and women’s associations, the club started to take off.
“That was probably the biggest change for basketball in Bendigo,” long-time club member Peter Allan said.
“I’m not sure basketball will ever overtake football in Bendigo in terms of the sports but that was a massive thing for basketball here.
“It’s only grown since, to see how many teams and players there are these days is incredible.”
Allan got involved after recovering from a knee injury suffered while playing football as a teenager. Since that point he never played football again and hasn’t looked back.
“It was one of those things where as soon as I got involved it had a bit of a hold on me, I’ve loved it,” he said.
Among the memories to be celebrated this weekend are countless domestic titles, but also the individual efforts of players that have come through the club.
Bendigo Braves captain Chris Hogan is a Beavers junior, as is his predecessor Warren Randall, while the club can also lay claim to Olympian Glenn Saville, Boomer Aaron Trahair and former Australian under-21 representative Nina Cass, just to name a few.
“To see those players go on and particularly represent Australia is incredible,” Allan said.
“It makes you very proud to have been involved in the club that can lead to that.”
And while Beavers may not be the biggest club in town – but certainly one of the most successful – Allan said that they don’t see themselves as any different to the clubs they play alongside and against.
“Every club is a bit different, but I think we are all in it for the same reason and that is for kids and adults to be playing sport and enjoying it,” he said.
The celebration will be held tomorrow night at Bendigo Stadium. For details, contact Peter Allan on 0419 394 783.