WARRNAMBOOL is returning to the Country Basketball League in an expanded south-west conference system.
The Seahawks and Mermaids will field development sides in the summer competition to fast-track future Big V representatives.
Both teams missed the 2017-18 CBL season.
The south-west men’s competition will increase from six teams to 11 with Bellarine, Geelong and Bacchus Marsh among the inclusions.
Horsham also returns to the conference after playing in the north-west side last season. Portland, Terang, Ararat, Hamilton, Colac and Mount Gambier round out the competition.
The Mermaids will be part of an eight-team women’s section, up two on last season.
Terang, Portland, Millicent, Horsham, Bellarine, Colac and Geelong will compete.
The CBL is split into four conferences and will feature 57 teams from 35 associations next season, starting October 13.
Seahawks and Mermaids president Jacob Sobey said Warrnambool Basketball’s junior umbrella, under chairman Mick McGowan, would run the programs.
Sobey said the association saw a need for the development program and was happy to be back in the CBL system.
Warrnambool, and bigger areas such as Mount Gambier and Geelong, use the competition to upskill juniors aiming for Big V and SEABL ranks.
Smaller associations, such as Terang and Horsham, use it as their main representative program.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from coaches and players to get it up and running again for kids who have finished their squad commitments and aren’t up to Seahawks or Mermaids standard yet,” Sobey said. “It’s a pathway program.”
Sobey said it was exciting to have more teams in the CBL.
“It is really good. It is because it’s a competition (for some) which is not so much about winning and losing but is a development program for associations to use,” he said
“It’s also good for smaller associations to be involved. They’re not up to Big V level but it’s good for them to get experience in a competition other than domestic.”
We’ve had a lot of interest from coaches and players to get it up and running again for kids.Jacob Sobey