Thu, Nov 18, 2021 7:15 AM

Frances takes international clipboard duties

Frances Tilly has been offered a position as assistant coach of the New Zealand U17 basketball team. Photo: Jonty Dine

Jonty Dine

When Frances Tilly joined Nelson Basketball, she was the fourth general manager the association had hired in just six months.

Both payer numbers and funds were down, and the local game was struggling to survive.

“It was in a pretty bad state.”

However, Frances’ dedication and passion for the game has seen it go through a resurgence and it is in a much stronger position today.

After six seasons with the NBA, Frances is set to take on a new challenge and hand the reigns over to a new general manager.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I think everything is so much better, our numbers are great, financially we are a lot more stable and politically a lot of the issues that were present have been resolved.”

Having brought the association back from the brink, Frances will now take on a new role as assistant coach of the New Zealand U17 women’s team.

“I didn’t want to leave until I felt things were in a good place and it’s a far more attractive role now than it was six years ago.”

Frances is no stranger to the international game, having spent time with the Tall Ferns during their 2018 tour to Asia.

“I’m so lucky to have coached with some incredible women.”

Frances says Nelson Basketball is thriving off the back of a team of local support.

“Our boards, our volunteers, our coaches. Its’ pretty demanding work and takes a lot of people to keep going.”

She says while Covid has presented its challenges, Nelson was incredibly fortunate to get two seasons in where other codes struggled for one.

During her time at Nelson Basketball, Frances coached approximately 35 teams across school, representative and national levels.

“One of the fantastic things about this role has been the ability to pursue my coaching.”

She will spend the next three years with the New Zealand U17’s as they look to qualify for worlds in 2024.

This journey will kick off with the Oceania Championships in Guam next year.

“We are just starting that selection process which is pretty exciting.”

Though she enjoyed her time at the Tall Ferns, Frances says her true passion lies in age group basketball.

“The absolute privilege of the last few years has been watching some of those kids head out in the world and it’s very cool to be part of their lives.”

She says there is a lot of buzz around basketball in Nelson.

“Nelson has been a basketball town for forty years and the association has a really good history of producing players, coaches, officials, managers to international level.”

Young players no longer have to go to the bright lights of Auckland or Wellington to succeed.

“Kids here are lucky to have access to good facilities and coaches.”

Frances will stay in Nelson and continue to coach Garin College and rep basketball while in her new role.

She will also take a break next year to ride the length of Aoteoroa to raise funds for youth mental health

“I care a lot about Nelson basketball, and I hope the next person that comes in can continue to grow the game.”