Leadership By Example
Women in sport is increasingly gaining more traction in the media – and so it should. With less funding and sponsorship than their male counterparts, it’s a tough path if you’re a young woman wanting to carve out a career in the sporting arena. But that challenge is not even a thought for one super-charged 18 year old who began her passion dribbling a basketball in a country Victorian town.
One word describes Chloe Bibby – ok, actually there’s more than one word – but for now, let’s focus on just one – “leadership”.
Fresh-faced young Australian basketball superstar Chloe Bibby is your average Aussie girl finishing her year 12 studies. She does homework, hangs out with teenage friends – but there’s more to Bibby’s life than burying her head in the books – she’s proving women can do it all, and do it well.
The 18-year-old tops an exciting crop of the next generation of future basketballers in Australia. She is in her third season in the WNBL with the Dandenong Rangers – a Good Sports club. Just getting here was a journey in itself – at 14 years old she moved away from home-town of Warracknabeal to play in Melbourne.
However, she has bigger destinations in mind.
The WNBL rising star is set to feature for the Australian Under-19 Gems side at the World Champs Oceania Qualifiers in Fiji next month. And there is no challenge too big for this eager 6’1’’ (181cm) forward.
“Hopefully America; will take me there,” Bibby reflects on the already-colourful start of a bright career.
“Ultimately that’s the goal. I’m still unsure if I’ll go to college yet. That’s the next step, whether I stay in Australia and keep playing here or go over there to play college ball.
“Everyone’s goal is to be the best they can. Eventually one day you want to play in the European League or in America. I definitely want to play for the Opals in Australia. Come on, that’s the goal. That’s where I want to be.”
Bibby is juggling pressures both on and off the court. With handles as strong off the court as on it, she is completing her year 12 studies while pursuing a WNBL and international basketball career.
“It’s pretty full on with exams coming up,” Bibby said. “I’m done soon and then I can focus on basketball which will be good but it’s full on.
“I do struggle but I’m pretty good at time management so it’s fine. Everyone’s going through the same thing. It’s year 12. It’s supposed to be hard, it’s not easy.”
However, while year 12 can be a tricky time in our lives, not everyone is playing for their country at the same time.
Here’s an 18 year old who is taking a key leadership role for the team but it doesn’t stop there – she’s doing it for all Australian women in sport.
“I feel like netball has really led the way for us (females) at the moment and it’s great,” Bibby said.
“We want to keep getting young girls into it and for everyone to come to basketball, women’s basketball. We’re really trying to push that along. It is improving slowly but surely, we’ll get there eventually. It’s just going to take some time and a bit of effort but it’ll be good.
“We’re always here. We love it and we’ll help anyone who wants it. (It’s) just falling in love with the game (and) getting kids into it.”
Bibby earned her international debut at the 2014 FIBA Under-17 World Championship in the Czech Republic and will be a key figure in the promising Under-19 squad in Fiji.
There are great expectations for the Under-19s Gems team with the majority of its players part of this year’s Under-17 World Championship gold-medal side. If they win next month’s Oceania Qualifiers, they will advance to the World Championships to be held in Italy next year.
“I’m super excited, ecstatic,” Bibby said. “This is the second time I’m representing Australia in the juniors but the first time in the under-19 side. I’m really excited about it. It’s going to be great.
“I’m one of the older girls as well, so just helping those younger girls step up into women’s because Under 19s are completely different to 17s.
“I’ve grown a lot since then (2014). I’m a different sort of player this time around so it’ll be good – looking forward to it.”
While it’s still early days, when you take a step back and look, it’s crazy to think about how far Bibby has come since she first started playing for her local junior club when she was seven years old. However, she still has plenty of reasons to be excited for the future.
“Definitely (it’s surreal), I think it’s just a great achievement,” Bibby said. “It’s good to look back on it but I’m always looking forward to the next thing; where else can I go, what else can I do?
While the world awaits for Bibby, she will keep her feet grounded locally at her Good Sports club, the Dandenong Rangers, and fully embrace all the support from the basketball-loving town.
“It’s great, it’s my third season. It’s a good group of girls. I’m young but everyone’s really good. Just keep improving – that’s my main goal really.
“I’m super excited about it all and I’ll just take what I can get and roll with it.”
It’s one thing to ‘take what you can and roll with it’ but it’s another to fully embrace the moment and make the most of the opportunity. Like a poet said once before, ‘you better lose yourself in the moment, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime.’ Bibby’s journey – both literally and figuratively – is only beginning and what’s great, she’s inspiring the next generation of women.