Australia has one of the leading basketball teams in the world in the Opals, yet at this year’s under 18’s Basketball Queensland trials only half the number of players turned up compared to last year.

Figures from Basketball Queensland also show that while the number of male participants grew by nine percent in 2017, female participation fell by four percent.

With a direct pathway in place for women to the national team, why has basketball become stagnant in growing female participation?

Basketball Queensland CEO Graham Burns said that a number of new sports 

“When I started in this role 15 years ago, the percentage of female participants overall was 40%, we’re now sitting at 24% and we need to boost those numbers once again,” Burns said.

"The primary reason I think is the fact there are new players in the market for female sports; AFL, rugby league, rugby union, cricket.

"Whilst we haven't gone backward, we certainly haven't gone forward," he said.

Basketball has long been part of Australia's sporting landscape and the WNBL is the longest running professional women's league in Australia and is celebrating its 38th anniversary in 2018.

However, just like many sports are facing former female basketball star turned coach, Mel Downer has seen a drop off in participation around the 14 year age mark. 

"We have really good participation rates in the grassroots level and we do see a significant drop off around the 14-year-old age mark," she said.

"That's what we are trying to tackle right now and that is the retention of those girls in the sport," Downer said.

By having a larger playing base and the ability to retain players throughout the age groups, Australia can only become more successful.

"The broader our base, and the more participants we have, the more successful we are on the world stage– and we are indeed successful," Burns said.