Flames reignite basketball’s return to the Hoops Capital

October 26, 2021 | Sydney Flames news

A blockbuster season-opening double header at Qudos Bank Arena, six double headers across the season and a young, exciting, new-look Brydens Sydney Uni Flames team means women’s basketball is the hottest ticket in Sydney this summer. 

The Women’s National Basketball League has announced its fixture for the 2021-22 season, which will see the Flames return to Sydney basketball’s “main stage” at Qudos Bank Arena. 

The Flames will welcome the return of big-time basketball to the Hoops Capital, opening a doubleheader against the UC Capitals, with the Brydens Lawyers Sydney Kings and Melbourne United clash to follow on December 5.  

Coming off a COVID-impacted season, which saw the entirety of last season hubbed in Queensland, the WNBL has announced a full 16-round fixture from December to March with finals into April. 

The Flames will go into the new season with an exciting young unit led by WNBA draftees Shyla Heal and Steph Watts, Opals emerging talent Keely Froling, and New Zealand Tall Fern Kalani Purcell. 

Add in the likes of quality, proven WNBL stars such as Lauren Mansfield and some of the brightest young stars in Australian basketball, Flames basketball will be exciting to watch this season. 

The side will be ably guided by former Sydney King, Boomers great and “Shyla’s dad” Shane Heal as coach this year, with Flames and Opals great Shelley Gorman back as his assistant. 

“I’m really excited for our club to have six double header games,” Heal said.  

“It’s an exciting time for the Kings and Flames and our fans get the opportunity to see both teams play in the best stadium in Australia.  

“I loved captaining the Kings in the ‘90s and getting to games early to watch players like Shelley Gorman dominate in the WNBL. 

“We have a young and exciting team that will relish the atmosphere of playing in front of big crowds as we rebuild the Flames program for long-term sustained success. “ 


Owner and chairman of the Flames Paul Smith said it would be a proud day for the organisation to be able to unite the Flamers and the Sydney Kings together under the roof of Qudos Bank Arena.  

“This is a landmark season for the entire organisation,” Smith said. 

“To be able to host Flames home games in Sydney for the first time since acquiring the team and to have a completely revamped coaching staff and roster only drives the hunger in the entire organization. 

“I’m particularly proud to bring Shane back into the fold of Sydney professional basketball. He has a terrific basketball mind and obviously with his ‘#girldad’ status he has applied his knowledge and philosophy to the women’s game. 

“We will continue to build our culture of ‘Two Teams, One Club’ in bringing the Flames and Kings closer together.  There’s no better way to do this that to host six double headers through the season and both teams season opener on December 5 at Qudos Bank Arena.” 

The Flames are in full training, with all of the players having arrived in Sydney. Only one import spot remains open after the withdrawal of Leaonna Odom due to injury, and Heal is currently scouting for a replacement. 

The 2021-22 Flames team are: Shyla Heal, Lauren Mansfield, Keely Froling, Steph Watts, Bec Pizzey, Kiera Rowe, Kalani Purcell, Emma Mahady, Funda Nakkasoglu, Chyra Evans, Katie Deeble, Morgan Yaeger, Sherrie Calleia.  

Membership packages have already gone on sale, and as part of a special offer this year all Flames junior members will go into the draw to be a part of a special coaching clinic with father-daughter combination Shane and Shyla Heal.