In 1992, Australia sent its first team of intellectually disabled athletes to compete in the Paralympics in Madrid, Spain. At those games our women’s team won Australia’s first ever basketball Gold Medal. Since then the Pearls have had a very successful international presence, winning a final three placing at every event in both the 5x5 and 3x3 formats, including 6 GOLD and 5 SILVER medals. The Australian Pearls are the current World Champions and the current Global Games Gold Medallists in 5x5 and 3x3, seeing the Pearls claim the Gold Medal in all four major competitions.
The Australian Pearls players are selected from the best athletes representing their states at the IVOR BURGE Championships which are held alongside the Australian Under 20s in February each year. This year’s Pearl’s squad includes players from Victoria, NSW, ACT and SA with an average age of 22 years old.
History of the Australian Pearls Basketball Team
|1999||Asia/South Pacific Championships||Japan||GOLD|
|2009||Global Games||Czech Republic||SILVER|
|2015||Global Games (3x3)||South America||GOLD & BRONZE|
|2016||Invitation / Friendly tour||Japan||GOLD|
|2017||World Championships (3x3)||Italy||GOLD & SILVER|
Past Pearls Legends (represented Australia for over 10 years, and made significant contributions on the court and in leadership roles):
Kim Larkin (VIC) – Kim represented Australia for 16 years, including nine as captain. In 2004, Kim was selected for the first Global Games and was subsequently named into the All-Star Five as the Point Guard, while also leading her team to the Fair Play Cup, awarded to the best team as voted by the officials. In 2012 Kim was recognised by the Governor of Australia with an Order of Australia for her contribution to basketball and people with a disability.
Kim was a pioneer for women’s sport amongst the basketball community. She demonstrated the mindset of an elite athlete through her training program, diet, strength and conditioning, and speed and skills programs. She actively pursued additional services to support her development, including nutrition and injury management from the Victorian Institute of Sport.
In 2014, Basketball Australia commemorated Kim’s lasting contribution to the game of basketball in Australia with the naming of the “Kim Larkin Fair Play Award” which is presented to a team at the Australian National Championships each year, for demonstrating the values of professionalism, humility, and commitment to the betterment of the game. Kim has been a true ambassador for the sport of basketball and for Australian women.
Nicole Skerman (QLD) – Nicole made her debut for the Australian Pearls at age 16 and competed internationally for over 12 years. Nicole was the only player from Queensland during that period, training and travelling alone with the wonderful assistance of her family. Nicole’s mum’s biscuits were always a hit at camp, and Nicole was famous around the world for her shoulder massages and her Dad jokes - “Nickers” made everyone laugh. On the court Nicole was a very serious, dependable player with strong defensive skills and a lovely soft mid-range shot.
Kim Perry (NSW) – Kim represented Australia for nearly 20 years, taking two small breaks during that time. “Kimbo’s” height made her an exceptionally valuable inside player and she worked hard to develop a variety of crafty post moves. Kim was one of a trio of NSW girls who joined the Pearls at a very young age with Kim going on to become the longest tenured of the three, becoming captain in her later years. Kim also naturally took on the role of player advocate, always available to other players for a chat, and always providing valuable input and ideas at team meetings – much of the off-court culture of the Pearls program comes from players like Kimbo who was always positive, happy and kind.
Christine Maynard (TAS, WA) – Christine Maynard was the Pearls’ key centre for eleven years. Towering over her rivals, she was practically unstoppable from scoring inside the paint. Christine was a quiet person who enjoyed spending time with her teammates and travelling around the world to different cities –always looking out for some souvenirs to take home for her son.
Kelly Wren (NSW) – Kelly Wren was a specialist from beyond the three-point arc. When she was hot, there was no stopping her from having a major impact on the game. Kelly was fast and played a very active defensive game. Wren was a natural in the role of captain and was often chosen as the player’s representative/flag bearer/speaker. Kelly was an outgoing member of the Pearls team for over ten years. Making things even more impressive, Kelly achieved her Pearls success story while also playing Tennis at the highest level – a World/Global Games champion in two sports.
Other Significant Contributors (represented Australia for over 5 years, and played an integral part in the stability and success of the team, on and off the court)
Molly Urquhart-Moran (VIC)
Nicole Harris (NSW)
Lisa Mackie (NSW)
Karina Baines (NSW)
Mina Aldobasic (VIC)
Renay Hall (VIC)
Danni Burden (VIC)
Krystal Munday (VIC)
Lily Holmes (VIC)
Vanessa Ainger (NSW)
Stephanie St John (VIC)
Other players who have represented Australia at International Tournaments:
Katlin Zonneveld (VIC), Samantha Williver (VIC), Kristy Carter (Simpson) (TAS,WA), Jessica Duncan (NSW), Lois Shea (VIC), Samantha Hough (VIC), Monique Favero (VIC), Kasey Webb (VIC), Natasha Excell (VIC), Natasha Nolan (VIC), Patrizia Puleo (VIC), Laura Williamson (VIC), Jenni Ensor (VIC), Kylie Burrows (VIC), Tiffany Podger (VIC), Victoria Traecy (NSW), Rebekah Green (VIC), Lesley Westwood (TAS), Donna Burns (VIC), Christine Humphries (VIC), Tanya Atcheson (NSW), Melissa Gallagher (SA), Alice Toogood (SA), Annette Kelly (SA), Gladys Delaney (VIC), Lorraine Archer (NSW), Fiona Hinds (NSW), Tina Kenna (TAS), Jan Pike (VIC), Belinda Scollary (VIC), Rebecca Sargeant (SA), Tracy Lane (SA), Tracey Powell (VIC).
In the 27-year history of the Australian Pearls program these 66 women have proudly worn the Gold and Green uniform of Basketball Australia, and always returned home with a medal to reflect their achievements. In addition, over 40 others have attended training camp in the hope of selection into a team. We thank all of these young Australian women for helping to build the program we have today.