Team of ex­perts to be­gin work re­build­ing the Fire

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport - by Andrew Aloia andrew. aloia@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

THESE aren’t your ev­ery­day fire fight­ers.

Two f o r mer b a s ket b a l l i nter­na­tion­als, a f ormer Croc­o­diles as­sis­tant coach, a sports man­age­ment guru and two prom­i­nent busi­ness peo­ple make up the Townsville Fire’s in­terim WNBL steer­ing com­mit­tee.

It’s a crack team, headed by for­mer club and Cana­dian cap­tain Clau­dia Bras­sard, whose mis­sion over the com­ing weeks is to fan the flames of hope for a brighter fu­ture in the competition by hir­ing a new coach and re­tain­ing and at­tract­ing both play­ers and spon­sors.

She will be join­ing forces with for­mer team­mate and New Zealand in­ter­na­tional Aneka Davis, for­mer NBL jour­ney­man Shane Frol­ing, lead­ing women’s sport ad­min­is­tra­tor Deb­bie Ben­net­tRauch, lo­cal busi­ness­man Den­nis Payne and the man who re­viewed the en­tire pro­gram, David Kip­pin.

Hav­ing a bal­ance be­tween savvy money mak­ers and sports peo­ple is just what Bras­sard said the strug­gling fran­chise needs.

‘‘ That is what has been lack­ing in the past,’’ she said.

And it’s only the start with the in­terim board in place to be­gin the search for a new coach, fol­low­ing the hasty exit of Peter Buckle at the end the sea­son, and ne­go­ti­a­tions with ex­ist­ing play­ers be­fore they are poached on the free agent mar­ket at the end of the month.

‘‘ The tim­ing of it is pretty cru­cial now,’’ Bras­sard said.

‘‘ We are com­ing in to en­sure the right things are in place to have a good team in place for next sea­son, to make sure all spon­sor are back on board.’’

Their ef­forts have re­ceived a mas­sive fi­nan­cial boost wit h Queens­land Nickel com­ing on board as ma­jor spon­sors. It’s an agree­ment that is un­der­stood to cover most of the $ 200,000 short-fall for next sea­son and will be a ma­jor bar­gain­ing chip in at­tract­ing a high qual­ity coach and mar­quee player.

‘‘ It means a lot of things, in terms of what we can do for the play­ers and what we can do for some of the coach­ing staff,’’ Bras­sard said.

Talks with play­ers started on Tues­day, with a plea for pa­tience in what is sure to be a try­ing time.

‘‘ We are ask­ing them for a bit of loy­alty,’’ Bras­sard said.

‘‘ We know due to time lines we are go­ing to have to ad­ver­tise for a few weeks and then start in­ter­view­ing for a coach, we are go­ing to be up front with play­ers, they are go­ing to be on the free agents list for a few weeks be­fore we can of­fer them a con­tract.’’

The in­terim board has been given pow­ers to ne­go­ti­ate be­fore a full-time board is elected and in­cor­po­rated to take over the run­ning of the team. Townsville Bas­ket­ball, who have been t he sole own­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors for the past decade, will con­tinue to hold the li­cense and lease it out to the board.

‘‘ To get through all that will take more than a cou­ple of weeks and we don’t have that time,’’ Bras­sard said.

Paul White

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