Wildcats Appoint Mel Downer

The Canterbury Basketball Association is pleased to announce that Mel Downer has been appointed Head Coach of the Alloyfold Canterbury Wildcats for the 2020 New Zealand Women’s National Basketball League (NBL) season


Mel will replace Dene Robinson who has resigned from the position for personal reasons.

Canterbury Basketball Association General Manager Clive Beaumont is delighted to be able to call on the services of such a highly experienced replacement.

“With the 2020 Women’s NBL season hopefully getting underway in October it was important to move quickly to fill the Wildcats Head Coach position.

“We are fortunate to be able to appoint a coach of Mel’s calibre at such short notice. She is working in the Canterbury region in her role as South Island Talent Manager for Basketball New Zealand’s High Performance Programme and therefore knows most of the players who will be vying for Wildcats roster spots for the upcoming season.

“It’s important  to note that the Canterbury Basketball Association has a policy to advertise position to the wider basketball community. However with the NBL season imminent we have appointed Mel as Head Coach for 2020 and will re-advertise the role in 2021,” Beaumont added.

Downer is a former Women’s Head Coach at the Australian Centre of Excellence (previously known as the AIS) and was the Queensland South Basketball High Performance Manager.

She is currently the Performance Pathways Manager for Mainland Eagles Basketball Academy playing a pivotal role in linking the Eagles programme with Basketball New Zealand’s national programme and the Canterbury representative programme.

Understandably Mel is excited about her appointment as the Wildcats Head Coach.

“I’ve been in Canterbury for 18 months now and been privileged to get to know the youth players, elite players and coaches in the region, so it’s really exciting to be able to lead the Wildcats and help make the connection between the female senior athletes in the representative programme.

“I’m passionate about the Canterbury rep programme and really happy we can make a full pathway for our female athletes.”

Originally the Wildcats had anticipated having a couple of overseas players as part of their 2020 playing roster but COVID-19 restrictions have rendered that impossible. Relying solely on local players is a situation that excites Mel.

“We are in a unique situation and we all need to be flexible and be able to adapt to changing circumstances. What it does provide are opportunities that may not come around again or be available in the future.

“That is so exciting as athletes will get the opportunity to play in the top women’s competition in the country when perhaps some of them wouldn’t normally get that chance. For some of them it will be a huge springboard for their basketball careers, so what a terrific opportunity for them to grab hold of and run with.”

Mel is of course the wife of Canterbury Rams Head Coach Mick Downer and will be bouncing ideas off her husband in terms of the style of basketball the Wildcats will play.

“The culture that was created in the Canterbury Rams group is something that is at the forefront of everything Mick does from a coaching perspective. I have a very similar philosophy in believing that good people make good teams and that will be the number one factor when putting the Wildcats team together.

“If they are good people it helps build that team mentality, playing together as a tight unit. I’m anticipating we will have a good mix of youth and experience but the overarching premise will be that they are good people.”

Details of the 2020 National Basketball League fixtures will be announced in the coming weeks as will the Wildcats playing roster.


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