It was a shaky first few steps for the mothballed Thunderbolts program as it moved towards a possible return to Waratah League action next year - but the wobble was quickly corrected, according to the man plotting a Bolts renaissance.
However, Scott Ward - the Tamworth Basketball Association president - said it would be "absolutely" unchartered territory for the Thunderbolts next season when they fielded men's and women's sides in 2022 after sitting out last season.
A revamp of basketball in Australia has resulted in the Waratah 2 League - which the Thunderbolts had competed in - being abolished. There is now only one Waratah League.
Ward said: "So it will be the toughest competition we've probably ever faced. Which is not ideal when we're effectively in a rebuilding phase."
He added: "It may not be the strongest teams that we've ever fielded, but it's important for us to be there."
This month the TBA was left disheartened after players initially showed little interest in suiting up in 2022.
However, those concerns have been allayed by "a very good response" to Thunderbolts trials last Sunday.
But a big issue facing the organisation is the loss of veteran players following the conclusion of the 2019 season.
Ward said: "We've been in the competition for over a decade now and we've had strong teams all the way along.
"[But] we've lost all of our veterans. So we're bringing a lot of young guys and girls into the program to mix with the remaining veterans that we have.
"And we're effectively going into a stronger competition at the same time.
"So a brand new set of challenges. We [also] don't know what the league is gonna look like."
This week the TBA advertised for coaches for the men's and women's sides, although Ward said the association had already identified mentors "we're particularly interested in".
"We haven't had a great deal of conversation with them," he said, adding: "We're blessed with coaching talent here in Tamworth."
Ward said the TBA was chasing a new major sponsor after the loss of its chief financial backer due to the pandemic.
That loss, he continued, was the reason the Thunderbolts sat out 2021.
He said "everything can start to fall apart fairly quickly" with basketball programs, "and that's effectively what we experienced over the last 18 months".
However, he added: "The players are there and the interest's there, so it's great."
The "goal", Ward said, was to give junior players "something to work towards" in terms of playing for the Bolts.
There was "tremendous" depth in Tamworth's under-18 boys and girls programs, he added.
Ward also said the TBA was keen to once again lure US imports to the Thunderbolts program, although that was unlikely to occur next season due to financial constraints.
The new season starts in March.
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