It can often be said that you can learn more from a loss than you can from a win, and this was definitely the case when the South West Sydney Academy of Sport Basketball team recently competed in the NSW Regional Academy Games.
One athlete taking a wealth of experience back from the games is Picton's Jade Dabrowski.
Dabrowski, in only her first year of playing representative basketball, said she was excited and ready to learn at the games.
"Being a part of the Academy has helped me develop my techniques in shooting and in running. I have gained a lot of new skills and great friendships as well," the Wollondilly Razorbacks player said.
"Having the opportunity to compete against older division one and state players gave us a look at what we need to do, and work on, if we want to get to that level. It gave us a look at what we can take back and do within our own local representative teams also."
With only four players having competed previously at a representative level, and despite losing all games played, the girls team remained positive throughout the experience.
Fellow Razorback Jessica Fiumara said the losses were also lessons.
"Mentally it was very tough, especially losing by the margins we did, however our coaches believed in us and kept encouraging us throughout the games," she said.
"They showed us that mental focus and working towards continued improvement, is very important. It is not always about winning, but about our effort and what we are learning from the opportunity to play at that level."
Despite the score lines, both Fiumara and Dabrowski remain positive for the future of girls basketball within the Academy.
"Imagine what we will be like in a year from now with the extra training and opportunities the Academy program is giving us," Fiumara said.
On the boys side of the draw, despite finishing in eighth spot overall, the Academy was fortunate to post a strong win in their opening game against the ACT Academy, winning 61-47 behind a strong defensive effort from Liverpool resident and Camden Valley Wildfire representative Kaiser Tat who led the attack from the Academy side at both end of the floor.
Wilton resident Nathan Strode, who despite being the youngest athlete in the program, took home more than his fair share of bumps and bruises after refusing to back down from any challenge set from the opposition.
Academy sports administration officer Stephen Craig said the academy was proud of their basketball team.
"We knew we would be behind the eight ball in terms of preparation, with the majority of the other squads having been in training since October and fielding premier league and state representative athletes," he said.
"But in true South West spirit, our athletes gave everything they had and did themselves, their home clubs, associations, and the Academy proud."
The academy program returns to the court throughout May and June with a strong focus on strength and conditioning, individual and team skill development.
Ahead of its final activity for 2021, which will be a 3x3 tournament hosted by the academy, in early July.
For more information, visit: www.swsas.org.au or call: 4627 7622.