The way forward: Moves begin for Geelong’s WNBL tip-off

May 16, 2024 BY

Geelong United Basketball CEO Mark Neeld and chair Jessica Chappell. Photo: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

GEELONG United Basketball’s (GUB) Board chair and chief executive say there is plenty to be excited about ahead of the 2024/25 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season, following the club’s announcement last week it will enter the nation’s top female basketball competition.

GUB chairperson Jessica Chappell and CEO Mark Neeld spoke exclusively with the Times News Group earlier this week about the association’s next moves ahead of its first year back in the WNBL since 1986.

Ms Chappell noted the positive reaction the community has shown to the club’s WNBL return announcement.

“To be able to finally share the news Geelong United had secured its place in the WNBL was incredibly exciting and rewarding on a number of fronts,” she said.

“This didn’t happen by chance, this was a deliberate pursuit of a place in the national league, it was a cohort of passionate Geelong people getting behind their dream to celebrate women’s sport.

“As a retired player, as a parent of a current player, and as a basketball fan, I’m just delighted.”

Among a season launch night to be announced in the next couple of months, a “variety” of membership options to become available to fans soon, and the beginning of the Free Agency Period, Mr Neeld confirmed Geelong United will play its first three seasons out of The Geelong Arena.

The three seasons will give United time to work through plans with various government bodies in a big towards building a new multi-sport stadium in the region.

“A lot of work has already been done between the City of Greater Geelong, the state government, the federal government, and the sports of basketball and netball,” Mr Neeld said.

“We’ll continue to work with those five groups to hopefully bring a stadium to fruition.

“Both sports require a 3,000 to 5,000-seat capacity and that’s what we’re continuing to work towards and having discussions on a weekly basis about.”


L-R: Geelong United Basketball CEO Mark Neeld and chairperson Jessica Chappell. Photo: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT


The WNBL’s Free Agency Period will also commence soon, where United will potentially sign any number of players who have not re-signed with their previous clubs.

Under the rules of free agency in the WNBL, Geelong United, as well as the other seven WNBL clubs, can contact players out-of-contract prior to the Free Agency Period’s June 10 start date, including Melbourne Boomers players.

Once June 10 arrives, a list of players who have told their clubs they will not re-sign is released, then Geelong United can finalise its roster.

Players not rostered to a WNBL club in 2023/24 last season can also be contacted.

Neeld said he could not confirm reports a new WNBL coach has been decided on and further announcements on that topic will be made in the coming months.

However, both Chappell and Neeld confirmed the club’s logo and uniforms will remain unchanged for the new team, with the club’s First Nations uniform design by David Flagg to remain on all strips from junior level teams to WNBL.

Based on previous years, the 2024/25 WNBL season will likely commence in early November and Mr Neeld said the community will be called on to help make the inaugural season a memorable one.

Ms Chappell expressed her desire for the club’s first round matchup to be a home game, which will be decided by the WNBL and Basketball Australia.