By Graham Hubbard
with comments from Rick Malloy
July 2004

The Club began in early 1991 when Barbara Papillo and Jan Molloy, whose sons Sam and Tim were playing basketball for their first season with another club, found out that Graham Hubbard, whose son Michael was a great friend of Sam Papillo, had been a basketball coach. Barbara approached Graham to see if he was interested in coaching a team to be developed from friends at Canterbury Primary School. Graham agreed. Barbara agreed to organise the uniforms. Jan agreed to handle the administration and Sam, Tim and Michael organized a group of friends to become the first team.

As the original player, Sam was asked to choose a name for the club - and Canterbury Cougars was born. The first season was Winter 1991. A team of nine - Sam Papillo, Tim Molloy, Michael Hubbard, Sam Whitechurch, Nick Opie, Sam Trimble, Chris Bell, Matt McClurg and Paul Chapman - trained on the basketball court at Canterbury Primary after school. The team did very well, winning 10 games in a row to finish second in the Under 11 division. In the first semi-final they led 18-0…but lost! Nevertheless an auspicious start.

The following season, Summer 1991-92, two teams were entered - an Under 10-1 and an Under 12-2, both coached by Graham. The season ended with the Under 12-2s beating the previously undefeated Bulls in the grand final to win the first of many Cougars championships.

For the first 2 or 3 seasons the club consisted of separate teams with the same name. Each team organized itself (coach, player list, manager, money) with the club helping with uniforms. Gradually as the number of teams increased more and more responsibility was taken by the applicable office bearers of the club. In the early days training was held on the outside court at Canterbury Primary School. Switching to indoor venues for training greatly increased the complexity of club organization. (Increased fees, shortage of venues, player behaviour at the venue, parent duty roster at training).

Graham left to work overseas from 1992-early 1994. At this time, the initial formal organisation began, with Rick Molloy being the first President. Around this time the tradition began of having a BBQ under the old pine tree at the School at the end of each season, with awards being given for each team and the coaches making a brief presentation about the team's fortunes during the season. The club was fortunate from the start that parents were always willing to support the children, be team managers or coaches, assist with team training sessions and act as scorers on a weekly rotation basis. Cougar teams were always noticeable for the large number of parents present, a fact that is still true today.

In Winter 1994, the first girls team was formed. In August 1994 a Club Philosophy and Organisation document was produced to formalize procedures so that everyone was treated equally and consistently, which was important because there was a lot of pressure for children to be able to find a team to join, but a shortage of coaches, as the game and the club grew in popularity. Importantly, the philosophy of the club was based on participation for students of the school, rather than on winning, which was seen as secondary.

By Summer 1994, the club had grown to 12 teams - 9 boys and 3 girls. By this time, finding training venues and coaches had become a major issue, so the policy of paying older players to coach younger players was developed and younger players wishing to become coaches were given a season as assistant coaches to develop into the role of coach. 

In mid 1995 the Cougars were asked by the Hawthorn Basketball Association to organise a committee to run the Saturday afternoon junior competition. (Up to this time the administration of the junior competition had been done on a volunteer basis by Gary Macdonald, Phil Bezemer and Phil Stewart. Phil Stewart had retired about 18 months previously and Phil Bezemer was also wishing to leave.) Rick Molloy organized a meeting of representatives of all the clubs or teams in the junior competition which set up the new committee and laid down its rules for operation. He then retired from being Chair of the Cougars to become the Cougars representative on the HBA Junior Committee and its inaugural Chairperson.

Judy Hubbard became Cougars Chairperson. There were many other important people who helped make the club run well, including Angela Robertson and Glenys Austin (enrolment officers), Robyn Stolfo and Jan Bertie (treasurers) and Maggie McBain (girls team developers). In 1998, Ian Coleman became the new Chair of the club as the original players and their families began to leave.

Angela Robertson as membership secretary initiated the practice of having a player sign up day for the Cougars at the beginning of each season. This greatly improved efficiency. Later the HBA Junior Committee adopted a similar process for team registration each season.

By Winter 1998 the club had grown to 25 teams - 12 boys and 13 girls. Half of the teams were coached by older players at this time. In 1998, a formal Canterbury Cougars Coaching Policy was developed, which aimed to formalize a development approach to coaching to try to ensure that coaches were themselves well trained as coaches. The club subsidized attendance at coaching classes and required Level 1 coaching before a person could coach. The positions of Coaches Advisors were developed, with Graham Hubbard, Maggie McBain and Julian Bialecki taking these roles for groups of coaches.

In 2000 to reinforce the importance of coaching to good basketball, Graham Hubbard sponsored a trophy for coaching excellence, to be awarded to a coach who had made a major contribution to the club and its player development over a number of seasons.

August 1994

  1. To provide past and present students from Canterbury Primary School the opportunity to play competitive basketball with their peers. Where there are insufficient players to form a team, children from other schools are eligible.
  2. To improve the knowledge and skills of players and teams.
  3. To promote a healthy attitude towards the game.


New players must fill out an Enrolment form and give it to a member of the Committee. The membership secretary will then advise whether they have been placed in a team or on the waiting list and when they can attend training.


The club depends on the goodwill of the parents and older players to volunteer their services as coaches and managers of teams.

Coaching a team is very time consuming. The limit to the number of teams is the number of coaches available.

The club is run by the Committee which is made up of the coaches, managers and office bearers. At the beginning of the season, the Committee places players in teams and appoints coaches. It also sets the subscription for the season.

The coach controls the team at training sessions and matches.

The manager collects the fees, supervises the roster of parents to score at matches and for stadium duty.

Parents are responsible for their child's participation and behaviour at all club activities and to assist in the smooth running of the team.


At the beginning of the season the Committee decides the composition of teams which will remain unaltered for the season after the initial three week trial period. Teams will normally have 7 players but this can be changed at the discretion of the coach.

Where there is more than one team in an age group, the A team will contain those players considered to have the better level of skill, experience and commitment in the group.

During the season, if a vacancy occurs, the membership secretary together with the coaches and managers of the teams affected will decide upon the best way to fill the vacancy.

Players on the reserve list who attend training every week, have a positive attitude and show improvement, are likely to be included in a team either at the start of the next season or if a vacancy arises.

In the youngest age grouping, if there are too many applicants for a particular team, as all players are new, it is the coaches' responsibility to select the team. Some players will be placed on reserve, some may miss out entirely unless another coach can be found.


Team operation is the responsibility of the coach. Different teams operate in different ways depending on the age and ability of the players and the style of the coach.

It is accepted practice in competitive basketball for the better players to make up the starting five and receive more court time - especially in close or important matches. If this occurs, the team coach should try to make up court time for the weaker players in games which are one-sided or less important.

Players who attend practice and make a good effort should expect at least 10 minutes court time in most games.


Coaches should use a coooperative coaching approach, where possible consulting players before decisions are made. Focus should be on player development, enjoyment for the whole team and achieving the best possible team results. The two essential ingredients to develop the best team possible are to play hard and to play smart. All coaches should use the same basketball terminology. Where possible, coaches should have played basketball themselves or have had coaching experience. All coaches are encouraged to develop their coaching skills by participation in courses and seminars.


If the behaviour of a player or group of players either on or off the court, is considered by the coach to be unacceptable, then the coach has the power to:
  1. Warn the player(s)
  2. Seek the help of parents
  3. Ask parents to attend practice or matches
  4. Bench the player(s) for part or all of the match

If the coach and/or manager feels that the above measures have not been successful, the club chairperson or secretary should be informed. The Committee, after consultation with all the people concerned, will make the necessary decisions about the future of the player(s) or team. The Committtee has the power to ask the player(s) to leave the club or wind up the team.


In exceptional circumstances, the Committee has the power to review and amend a rule at a full Committee meeting.