Council: tournament “fantastic event”

20-05-16 Werribee Eagle Stadium. Photo by Damjan Janevski.

By Alesha Capone

Wyndham council has said it would be happy for a South Sudanese Basketball Tournament to be held in an area accessible to residents, but not at Eagle Stadium.

The council issued a statement today, after The Age newspaper reported that the South Sudanese Australian National Basketball Association (SSANBA) had expressed disappointment that two of its major events – the National Classic in July and Summer Slam in December – were unable to be held this year, due to coverage of “African youth issues” in the media.

In a Facebook post, SSANBA said they have “struggled to get stadiums to host the tournaments” due to negative media stories.

The Age article said that last year’s Summer Slam was held at Eagle Stadium in Werribee, and that Wyndham council had said  it would not be held at the same venue this year, after complaints from residents.

In January, Star Weekly also reported that the council had met with the tournament’s organisers to suggest they find an alternative venue to Eagle Stadium.

Wyndham mayor Peter Maynard included this in a statement he posted to Facebook at the time, He also posted that many residents had contacted the council about safety concerns stemming from a South Sudanese basketball tournament held at Eagle Stadium during December last year.

In the council statement issued today, acting chief executive Jenny McMahon said the South Sudanese Basketball Tournament was “never scheduled to be held at Eagle Stadium in 2018”.

“This was determined following a large number of patrons being locked out of the facility due to capacity issues, in both 2016 and 2017,” she said.

Ms McMahon said that discussions had occurred between the event organiser, council and the venue operator, but it was decided that a larger venue would be “more appropriate” given the growth of the tournament.

She said that subsequently, no formal application was made to host the tournament at Eagle Stadium either this year or next year.
“The South Sudanese Basketball Tournament is a fantastic event and we would be very supportive of the event being held at a location that is accessible to our residents given that it has significantly outgrown Eagle Stadium,” she said.