Jackson Cooper has big basketball dreams.
He is 15 and plans to play for Tasmania in the National Basketball League.
“I want to at least do the NBL. It’s my biggest dream, to get there,” he said.
But just playing junior club basketball proved difficult for the teenager.
It took a support officer from his local Police and Community Youth Club (PCYC) to guide him to the Glenorchy Revelers – the basketball club closest to his place of residence.
When he joined, he didn’t even own a pair of basketball shoes.
“[The officer] Helped me get into the club, bought me shoes, played for a year, and now I’m in the Under-16s, âJackson said.
Jackson lives in Bridgewater, one of Tasmania’s most disadvantaged suburbs.
There is no basketball club there, nor around Gagebrook or Herdsmans Cove. In fact, team sport hardly exists in the region.
Thus, at the weekend, the young power striker adapts to the Revs who play their matches at Kingborough, 45 minutes away.
While his grandmother can take him to train in the nearby town of Claremont on match days, he relies on a lift to Kingborough from a friend’s parents.
âNormally I have to get up around 6:00 am. I am picked up around 8:00 am and then we play around 1:00 pm,” he said.
Generations of sporting talent potentially lost
He is one of the lucky ones.
Jackson is one of over 7,000 people who call the Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Herdsmans Cover area home.
It has some of the poorest socio-economic and health outcomes in the state, and for decades a dedicated sports team – so often the glue of underprivileged communities – did not exist in the region.
“There is currently no Bridgewater Football Club, Bridgewater Hockey Club, or Basketball Club,” said Jacob Howard, teacher at Jordan River Learning Federation in Bridgewater.
For Jackson and the local youth, only East Derwent Little Athletics Club and Hobart Gymnastics Academy serve as sporting strongholds, while DOSA Football Club plays its home games in nearby Wely Park.
In Pontville, just five miles away, a new $ 6 million facility is home to Brighton’s football and cricket clubs.
But for young people in Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Herdsmans Cove, where access to basic transportation is limited and parents are among the poorest in the country, going to Pontville to participate in organized team sport is not. not as easy as it sounds. .
On weekdays Mr Howard speaks about the difficulties faced by young people in the region as a teacher, while on weekends he is the head coach of Brighton football club.
He said the disconnect between the two areas was real, despite their proximity.
He believes that generations of sporting talent in the region have been lost.
“There are so many gifted athletic boys and girls without a sports club and without competitions who can fall by the wayside,” he said.
It’s the same story at the nearby Herdsmans Cove Elementary School, where Deputy Principal James Milne says a lack of access to basic transportation reduces the region’s youth and contributes to the region’s unenviable reputation. .
“They also don’t have a club that they can represent to develop their skills as well.”
“From a student perspective, they enjoy sports and recreation, but there just aren’t the avenues that other fields have access to.”
The suburbs are in dire need of sports clubs
In sport-obsessed Tasmania, it’s hard to imagine that an area home to 7,000 people does not have a sports club of its own.
If ever one region needed representation, it was Bridgewater, Gagebrook and Herdsmans Cove.
According to the University of Torrens Social Atlas, suburbs have the worst rates of obesity, smoking and asthma in the state.
Surprisingly, life expectancy in the region is 20 years lower than in the Hobart suburb of New Town, just 11 miles away.
“If you’re part of a team, it gives you something to look forward to and something to work towards.”
There are plans to create a new sports club in the region from scratch.
It is led by former AFL Tasmania general manager Scott Wade and his vision is a club for the community, fielding teams from football, cricket, basketball, netball and other competitions in southern Tasmania.
The new club’s working name is âBGH Breakers,â and Wade believes that with a club of their own, local youth can thrive on and off the sports field.
“It’s a community sports and wellness club. It’s not just about sport. It’s about physical, mental and social well-being,” Wade said.
Mr. Wade describes the Breakers as a “new world” sports club.
He says the Breakers will have a âone club, one brand, one communityâ model and will not rely on volunteer work, instead offering paid positions to employees.
âIt’s been 40 years since Bridgewater, Herdsman’s Cove and Gagebrook have had any kind of sports culture,â he said.
âSo we hope to create jobs in sports and recreation, and in the well-being of the community. “
There’s also a larger in-game image for the Breakers’ first board.
He believes that from a local sports club not only can better physical and health results arise, but that a new sports club can help change the overall socio-economic profile of the region.
The logic is supported by a 2015 AFL study of the Burnie Football Club which showed that while the region had the worst youth unemployment rate in the country, the football club recorded an employment or employment rate. 100% full-time studies among its players.
“That’s what sport can do. Sport is just a vehicle for better community outcomes.” Mr. Wade said.
For Jackson, a target rookie of the potential new club, a community club and the benefits it would bring would be a godsend.
“It would mean that I wouldn’t have to go that far and that I wouldn’t have to get up so early in the morning,” he said.
It would be a sporting chance for Jackson and some of Tasmania’s most disadvantaged young people.