Bandits give Payne, Gooding life memberships 

THE Albury-Wodonga Bandits have recognised the stellar efforts of champion skipper Nick Payne and title-winning coach Leigh Gooding with the awarding of life memberships.

And in further good news, the Bandits have also cleared their debt to the South East Australian Basketball League, resulting in a net income that more than doubled from last year.

According to the club’s profit and loss statement, net income increased from $4910.80 in 2011-12 to $10,487.08 in 2012-13, with the organisation finally erasing the last of its outstanding registration fees to the league.

The life memberships were awarded to Payne and Gooding at the club’s annual meeting, with Bandits president Michael Mack saying there could be no more deserving winners.

“Both Nick and Leigh are worthy recipients of this award and we are privileged to have such respected players continue to have input into our club,” Mack said.

The club record-holder for games played with 322, Payne is the only player to have played in both Bandits conference titles in 2001 and 2012, as well as the subsequent overall SEABL crown last year.

After starting his six-year playing career with the Bandits in 1989, Gooding returned to coach the team in 2000 and etched his name in club history by leading the Border outfit to the conference championship in 2001.

Given Payne will be playing on next year, the 2006 SEABL All-Star Five nominee admitted he was surprised to receive the award.

“It was very unexpected, I think it’s the sort of thing you generally receive once you’ve finished playing,” Payne said.

“It’s something that I’ll be able to look back on in years to come as a fantastic achievement.”

Especially gratifying for Payne was receiving life membership alongside Gooding, who the Bandits skipper credited with having an enormous impact on his playing career.

In particular, Payne said Gooding showed him the value of a proper work ethic and “what it took to play and be successful at this level”.

“He’s been huge in my career, instilling confidence and I learned a lot from him so it’s really nice to receive such an honour with a great coach,” Payne said.

“There wasn’t any one thing in particular, he just gave me a lot of confidence and was the first coach who taught me that I wasn’t working hard enough.”

Now the national program manager for wheelchair basketball for Basketball Australia, Gooding continues to work with the Bandits in an advisory role.

The title-winning coach admitted he felt a small measure of guilt when told of his award, given his previous role as head of basketball operations at the Dandenong Rangers meant he was actively trying to beat the Bandits.

“It was surprising when I first heard about this, I thought someone was playing a bit of a joke, but it was a very pleasing surprise,” Gooding said.

“I was humbled and even a little bit guilty.

“When you get an award like this you feel like you haven’t done enough to help the club so hopefully now in my new role, I can give them a little bit more of my time.”

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