Champion Roller Hawks under threat

Dreams of a third consecutive national championship will be crushed for the Wollongong Roller Hawks if they continue to struggle for funding next season.

It is a sobering reality for the champion team after last month capping a near-perfect season by thrashing the Perth Wheelcats 79-59 in the National Wheelchair Basketball League grand final.

Yesterday they turned to the community for more support, hosting a family-friendly open day at Albion Park Rail Public School with sponsor James' Home Services in the hope of raising much-needed funds.

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    Roller Hawks manager and president Pablo Jimenez said a lot of work still had to be done to find a major sponsor and raise enough money to keep the team in the league.

    "To run our season successfully, we've got to raise anywhere in the vicinity of $70,000 to $80,000," Mr Jimenez said.

    "This year we just scraped through; we just managed to pay everything but days like today and sausage sizzles help give us a boost throughout the season.

    "If we had a major sponsor who might give us money or sign up for a three-year deal it would just give us that security [for a few more years]."

    Mr Jimenez said sponsors had been reluctant to offer support to the Roller Hawks - who have won consecutive national championships - claiming the sport "isn't mainstream enough".

    Much of the sponsorship money goes towards travel and accommodation costs for the team's away games, which can cost anywhere between $6000 and $9000 per road trip.

    Shooting guard Nick Taylor said the team was proud of the community support they already received.

    They just hoped even more businesses and supporters would help their cause.

    "It's great we can pack our Shellharbour Stadium with 500 people to watch the grand final ... it shows we come from a community where people can get behind their local teams," Mr Taylor said.

    "It's just really important that everyone comes and gets behind us and sees what we're able to achieve on behalf of the community, because we do represent Wollongong when we travel around the country."

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