31 January 2023

Nicole Bowles leaps to top spot at Basketball ACT

| Tim Gavel
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Nicole Bowles. Photo: Basketball ACT.

Nicole Bowles joins a growing number of women in leadership roles in the ACT. Photo: Basketball ACT.

Eighteen months ago, no women were in chief executive roles in the nine major participation sports in the ACT.

With Nicole Bowles taking over this week as the CEO of Basketball ACT, there are now three. She joins Cricket ACT’s Olivia Thornton and Netball ACT’s Sally Clark in senior leadership CEO roles.

Nicole comes to the role with an impressive resume. For the past two years, she’s been Basketball ACT’s general manager of operations after 14 years in netball administration and performance.

“I’ve always wanted to seek out senior leadership roles in sport. I came across to basketball and felt immediately at home and was accepted by the basketball community,” Bowles says.

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In making the transition to CEO, Bowles said outgoing chief executive David Simpson has been a great support and mentor.

“There’s been a lot of work being done in middle management to promote women into senior leadership roles in sport and that has certainly been the case here with David.”

With growing pressure on the organisation to cater for the significant growth in the sport in Canberra, it’s not a job for the faint-hearted.

Children playing basketball

The number of people wanting to play basketball in the ACT exceeds court space. Photo: File.

Bowles is well versed on the issues facing the sport, with her previous role covering facilities, officials, high performance and development programs, as well as NBL1 and Waratah League programs.

This is a point emphasised by Basketball ACT president Allan Yates.

“The board is confident Nicole can build on the base left by outgoing CEO David Simpson and the staff over the past few years. She will also put her own mark on our future vision and activity. Nicole has a strong understanding of Basketball ACT, its broad span of activities, and the Canberra sporting landscape.”

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Facilities are currently stretched to the limit, with indoor courts, in particular, at a premium.

This has resulted in sports such as basketball utilising school gyms and the like.

In some instances, Nicole says four teams are training on one court – and it’s only set to become more crowded.

“We are currently taking winter registrations and there is an anticipated 20 per cent growth in numbers for the winter competitions.”

Belconnen Basketball Stadium

Land next to Belconnen Basketball Stadium could alleviate some of the sport’s growing pains. Photo: Jennifer Andrew.

The land beside the existing Belconnen Basketball Stadium has long been identified as a solution to the lack of court space.

“We have started positive discussions with the ACT Government and we’ve done a feasibility study to build four new additional courts next to the Belconnen Stadium.”

And it would seem as though there is a solid platform to build the sport in Canberra, with Basketball ACT in a healthy financial position.

Given the stability of the sport in Canberra, developing more courts is the sport’s greatest priority.

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