WBA names new coaches

Aaron Benstead talks to young basketball players. (Supplied).

By Alesha Capone

The Wyndham Basketball Association (WBA) has welcomed two new coaching appointments for the Victoria University Wyndham Senior Program.

Lucas Allen has been named as the Victoria University Big V Championship men’s head coach and Aaron Benstead as the Victoria University Big V Youth League men’s head coach.

WBA player and coach development manager Gerard Hillier said Allen was a “huge addition” to the program given his experience of working with elite juniors via the Basketball Victoria Country pathway.

Allen is also technical assistant coach for the South East Melbourne Phoenix in the NBL.

In addition, Hillier said Benstead – who started out his career basketball playing with Wyndham as a youngster – was coming back to the WBA after spending four years with the Melbourne Tigers, where he worked extensively with their under-18s to Youth League programs and served as an assistant coach under Andrew Gaze and others.

Allen said that after an “incredibly disrupted” past two years in the sport due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, he was looking forward to getting back on the court.

He said that at Wyndham, he was also looking forward to leading a basketball program, as opposed to assisting in one, and meeting new faces and athletes.

Allen has previously been a guest coach at WBA tryouts and camps, while his fiancé also played for the association last year.

“The thing that always stuck out to me, even as a guest coach, was how professional and how progressive they are, and want to be,” he said.

Allen said that the WBA was keen to recruit, recognise and retain local basketball talent from among Wyndham’s residents.

“The primary focus for us has been, and will continue to be, building the team to be representative of the Wyndham community,” he said.

“The Wyndham locality has so much talent but for some reason or another a lot has left in the past.”

Allen’s new colleague Benstead said he played with the WBA, back when it was still named Werribee, as a team member in the under-12s through to the under-18s.

Benstead said that in returning to the WBA, there were a lot of familiar faces at the club.

He said that it has been “very humbling” to be welcomed back to Wyndham.

“I saw it, for me, as a good chance to return home so to speak, being a Werribee boy from day dot,” Benstead said of his return.

“I started my junior representative coaching there as well and it just made sense to come back.”

Benstead said that after being able to work with “really good coaches” at the Melbourne Tigers across the past few years, he wanted to use his skills and experience in growing and retaining youth basketball players for the WBA’s benefit.

“We definitely want Wyndham to be the association of choice in Melbourne’s west,” he said.

Benstead said he did not want to sound classist but that he hoped to build WBA’s young players up to have the “hard-nosed, blue-collared workmanship mentality” of the western suburbs when it comes to playing the game.

“We want to build the program up to have a really solid set of values and discipline in there going forward,” he said.

The WBA has also welcomed back Hillier as the Victoria University Big V Championship women’s head coach, along with Corey Michailidis as the Victoria University Youth League women’s head coach.

Details: wyndhambasketball.com/