History of VBBA
The Victorian Baptist Basketball Association (VBBA) had its humble beginnings in the sheep pavilion at the Dandenong Showgrounds. During the year of 1972 an inspired Reg Mattingly from Doveton Baptist felt that it would be a good thing to have a Baptist Competition. Such churches as South Blackburn, Doveton, Dandenong, Oakleigh, Mitcham and Syndal Baptist had basketball teams playing in different competitions. Reg had connections in Tasmania and Western Australia where Baptist Competitions were established so he invited them to bring teams over to Melbourne to play against the local church teams. This happened in October 1972 where a week long Carnival was held. As the host State we billeted all the players and at the end of the fun packed week it was established that:
- We start our own competition BYF (Baptist Youth Fellowship)
- Meet again next year in Perth for another week long carnival, thus starting the Australian Baptist Basketball Carnival. This has become the outreach arm of the Baptist Competitions around Australia.
A committee was formed and a men’s competition between the teams from these churches began. This was played at the Canterbury Salvation Army Hall in Canterbury Rd every Wednesday night and by 1975 we had A and B grades with teams from Bulleen, Balwyn, Box Hill, Dingley Union and Wattle Park Chapel joining the competition.
A combined men’s team attended the 2nd carnival in Perth in October 1973 (which we won) and decided to visit Launceston, Tasmania the following year in October 1974. South Australia joined us for the Melbourne carnival in 1975. New South Wales and Queensland have joined us on a number of occasions as well as a team from New Zealand.
We were encouraged to move to new premises as the Salvo Hall was due to be demolished!! Any wonder, we frequently shared the court with our feathered friends and the court had to be cleared of pigeon poo before the games could start!! So, in 1978 we moved to Koonang H.S. for a season. We then moved to Blackburn South High School and as the competition grew we extended to a 2nd night at Syndal Technical School. By 1981 we moved to the 2 court stadium at Aquinas College in Ringwood as well as Blackburn Sth. High School on Monday & Wednesday nights.
Due to Government Legislation we had to run the competition as an incorporated association and in 1987 we became the ‘Victorian Baptist Basketball Association Inc.’
By 1988 we needed 4 courts and split the competition between Aquinas and Donvale Secondary College and only when we moved into the new Maroondah Stadium in Ringwood in 1996 could we run the competition on one night Monday nights for up to 55 teams and for the first time have referees supplied!!!
The Carnival too gained in popularity: B Men and Women were introduced, then under 18’s and Veterans (over 35’s). We now have dropped the Vets and introduced A Res men.
With the growing numbers it became harder to billet in homes to the point where now the States organize their own accommodation. This gives a better opportunity to build and develop relationships within the teams and it has also helped tremendously in helping people build a relationship with Jesus Christ. The nightly devotional speaker at the stadium presents the gospel which then gives teams a chance to build a theme in “Team Time”. We regularly take 50-60 players interstate and when in Melbourne the carnival attracts over 200 players from all over Australia.
We give the Glory to God for this unique opportunity each year to present the gospel in a relevant manner. Over the years we have had a number of overseas speakers, all of which go back to their homes with a deep appreciation of what is going on in Australia where we get together for a week of intense Basketball and a time when lives are changed as they accept the challenge of knowing God through Jesus Christ as Lord.
Yours in Christ’s Service,