THE Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits have appointed New Zealand native James Ballinger as coach for this season.
After a lengthy search, the Border side announced yesterday it had finally found its replacement for Tammy Goyne.
Ballinger is still in New Zealand but will relocate to the Border in the coming weeks once he finishes work and coaching commitments.
Bandits president Michael Mack said the new women’s coach wanted to make a “real crack” at life in Australia.
“That was one of the main reasons we chose him,” Mack said.
“We didn’t want a short-term fix and have a coach for five or six months.
“It was a pretty extensive search.
“We need to build some momentum and to do that we don’t want a coach to come and leave. We want them to become part of the club and community.
“We need someone who has the time, energy and vision for our Lady Bandits program, as well as the personal flexibility to commit to the various requirements of the role.”
But despite the club’s long-term focus, Mack said he didn’t want that to come at the expense of this season.
“Make no mistake, we need to get back in the winning column this year,” Mack said.
“We are not going to be unrealistic but we need to win more games than we did last year.”
Ballinger’s appointment comes after the Border club thought it had secured the services of former WNBA and WNBL player Megan Moody as coach, before she was forced to withdraw her application due to personal reasons.
Ballinger is no stranger to the Albury-Wodonga area, having coached at the Country Cup over several years.
Mack said Ballinger came highly recommended by former Lady Bandits, and WNBL West Coast Waves coach, Ken Kereama.
“James is in a similar spot to what Kennedy was,” Mack said.
“Kennedy came over looking for the opportunity to coach at a high level and now he is in the WNBL.”
Ballinger has extensive coaching experience in New Zealand, most recently as the head coach of the Junior Tall Ferns.
Ballinger also led the North Harbour under-21 girls team to a national championship in New Zealand in May.
In a further boost, Mack said the Lady Bandits were “very close” to announcing news on import signings.