By Sam Watson
NEXT Friday, the Vic Metro and Vic Country under 16s basketball teams were supposed to by flying to Perth for the national basketball titles.
They would then attend the opening ceremony on Saturday and compete for the national title over the next week.
But then Victoria went into lockdown, and the Western Australian government said any Victorians coming to the state would have to spend 14 days in quarantine.
Basketball Victoria quickly approached the parents and asked if they would be comfortable paying for themselves and their kids to quarantine in Western Australia.
With 40 Victorian athletes and their parents, the cost of quarantine was immense, but they all agreed to fly out on Friday, June 18, giving them two weeks to quarantine before the event started.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help families pay for the costs associated with quarantine and Basketball Victoria was also planning on subsidising the accommodation.
After much deliberation with WA Health, Basketball Victoria and Basketball Australia were under the impression the Bridgetown School Camp would be an appropriate venue to self-isolate.
And last Thursday, the Vic Country team went to pick up their uniforms and start to prepare for the big tournament.
But shortly after, at 8.30pm, parents and players received an email telling them the conditions of the facility didn’t comply with the government’s protocols and they wouldn’t be allowed to quarantine.
Unless they all paid for individual hotel rooms, which wasn’t financially viable.
The news left Basketball Victoria and all the athletes shattered, as they thought they’d done everything right, just 12 hours before they were due to fly out.
One of those shattered athletes was Wonthaggi’s Jett Garnham.
His mum Cathy said Jett was always cautious not to get too excited because the threat of not being able to attend was constantly there.
But once he picked up his uniform, the prospect of competing on a national stage certainly became real.
“We were struggling to think that we would go with the lockdown, but he was pretty happy when Western Australia initially allowed us to quarantine,” Cathy said.
Before the lockdown struck, Cathy and other parents were planning on travelling to Western Australia but getting an additional two weeks off work to fit in the 14-day quarantine was an issue.
But there is still much hope for the Victorian sides.
If Victoria can go 14 days without any untraceable community transmission, the Western Australian government will consider the state a “very low-risk”, allowing them to fly in without quarantining at all.
Currently there is some confusion to where Victoria is at, but it’s believed the WA government has them at 11 or 12 clear days.
But if there is just one untraceable case in the next two days, their chances of playing in the titles are gone.
On Wednesday, Cathy said there had been no word about when the team will fly out if Victoria moves to “very low-risk”, but she suspected it would be as soon possible.
“You’d think you’d like to fly out straight away in case anything else happens, but nothing’s been put in concrete yet,” Cathy said.
On the chance it does fall through, Cathy said it would be another massive blow to young Victorians trying to make headway into the basketball world.
“Basketball Victoria and Basketball Australia would have to find other ways to look at them and judge their talent.
“Not competing is going to harm them quite a bit but they’ll need to look at them in a different way.”
And while Victoria was locked down for the majority of last year, other states were able to play basketball seasons, so they’re already behind in terms of development.
“They’re potentially going to be a fair way behind other states, purely because they’ve actually been able to play.”