There was a buzz in Port Fairy on Wednesday night.
The Port Fairy Basketball Association's (PFBA) junior competitions got under way to the delight of young players.
Competition was supposed to start in March but the COVID-19 pandemic threw that plan into disarray.
The under 12 and under 14 combined competition and the 17 and under competition began on Wednesday at Port Fairy stadium.
There were strict coronavirus protocols in place such as basketballs being sanitised prior to each game.
Treasurer Michelle Covey said it had taken a community effort to get youngsters back on court.
"Earlier in the year, we had an open day and received donations of goods and services from local businesses to help make the day a success," she said.
"We have been humbled by the interest shown for future sponsorship which is just remarkable given how much businesses have been affected by COVID-19.
"The community is behind us and we are extremely grateful."
It's been all hands on deck in Port Fairy.
"Parents, grandparents and siblings have also put their hand up to volunteer their time and coach teams," Covey said.
"Young kids have completed the referee course and are eager to start refereeing and earn a few dollars on the side."
Aussie Hoops, a basketball program for those aged five to 10 years, started on Monday night for girls.
It proved a success under the leadership of Warrnambool Mermaids players Jae Leddin and Soraya Kearney-Knox.
Covey was thrilled to have 40 participants across two sessions with the association aiming to boost female participation.
"We're really excited about it because our girls basketball numbers had dropped off significantly," she said.
"It's really encouraging to see girls out on the court."
A VicHealth Active Club Grant, which the association received in June, has helped the cause.
Encouraging female participation in sport is one of VicHealth's major focuses.
According to the VicHealth website: "Almost half as many women take part in organised sport compared to men, and women are most likely to stop playing sport as teenagers".
The issue is highlighted in the PFBA.
The under 12s and under 14s combined competition has six teams.
Covey said it features two girls and the rest are boys.
"We'd love to have them at the association but we're struggling for numbers in that age group for girls," she said.
The 17 and under competition, with four teams, is all boys.
Covey said the association had about 60 players involved in junior domestic basketball.
The current season will run until the end of September.
Covey invited any juniors interested to register for the term four season.
Registrations will be open during the term three school holidays.
The boys Aussie Hoops program starts Saturday and will be led by ex-Seahawks players, Tommy Greene and Matt Porter.
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