Team of experts to begin work rebuilding the Fire
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.