These boys are No. 1

June 25, 2024 June 25, 2024

These boys are No. 1 These boys are No. 1 These boys are No. 1

Here's one for the history books.

Our 14.1 Boys will become the first Camberwell Dragons team to compete at a national junior championship when they step out at the 2024 Foot Locker Under 14 Championships in September.

The hard-working boys secured their invitation to the prestigious 24-team event after excelling during the first half of their Victorian Championship (VC) campaign, and have impressed coach Conor Mathews every step of the way with their work ethic and commitment.

"To be honest, at first glance you wouldn't take us for an Australian Championships team," Mathews said. "We are undersized to the point we have confused for an Under 12 team multiple times ... I think it's this fact that makes me even prouder of the lads.

"We are absolutely relentless defensively, and we never throw in the towel. We have erased 10-15-point leads more times than I can count.

"The boys also have very high individual standards. They are never satisfied and always working to improve by one per cent each training and game. The collective mindset of resilience, competitiveness and self-improvement is a testament to their spirit, and their parents instilling great values within them."

Conor has coached at Camberwell for almost a decade, so is well aware of what this milestone means for the Dragons.

"I think it's an enormous step forward for a program that has already done its fair share of stepping forward the last few years," he said.

"I remember my first year coaching rep basketball (as the great man Justin Boyd's assistant) in 2015, our Under 12-1 team made VJL2. We were routinely playing teams like Kilsyth 4, Bulleen 4 and Frankston 4. Since then, we have become a household name in VC and dabbled in some Classic qualification, too.

"Now, to be able to compete at the pinnacle of Under 14 competition across Australia, with a group of 'homegrown guys', is a testament to all the contributions that our Dragons community have made to our program."

It is also a special moment and significant achievement for Conor, who has worked tirelessly at building a bigger and better Under 14 Boys program since becoming head coach of the age group.

"Individually, it means the world to me," he said. "It's been in the back of my mind since 2021 when I first moved to coaching Under 14s as something that seemed so far out of reach at the time, but I was really hoping to chip away at doing my little part at improving our program.

"I've always enjoyed coaching as an underdog team and with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. It challenges me to think outside the box a little an to challenge the players to dig that little bit deeper. It also make success a whole lot sweeter."

Let's get right behind Conor and his team, Camberwell. This is going to be a fun ride!

About Camberwell Dragons 14.1 Boys
After compiling a 7-2 record through the first half of the VC season, the 14.1 Boys have won one of their first three games in VC Championship play and are 8-4 overall. After losing their first two games at this month's National Junior Classic in Melbourne, they closed with four straight wins to finish ninth in their 16-team competition.

About the 2024 Foot Locker Under 14 Championships
The Foot Locker Under 14 Championships open at Casey Basketball Stadium in Cranbourne East on September 21 and will feature the top 48 club teams from around Australia – 24 of each gender. National champions will be crowned on September 27.Each state nominates their annual quota of teams to participate in the Basketball Australia event based on state-determined criteria.

For more information about our 14.1 Boys and/or the 2024 Foot Locker Under 14 Championships, please email Andrew Johnstone HERE.

"Now, to be able to compete at the pinnacle of Under 14 competition across Australia, with a group of 'homegrown guys', is a testament to all the contributions that our Dragons community have made to our program," – Conor Mathews

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