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					                                  Sport                                                                                                                                                  Victorian Netball League

                                      n the
                                                                               The talk is over
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                                    THE FIRST CENTRE PASS
                                    State Netball Centre
                                    Friday, March 13
                                    ■ Southern Saints v North
                                      East Blaze
                                    ■ Geelong Cougars v Ballarat               Kim Klaver, from Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels (front and centre), joins her nine rival skippers in launching the new Victorian Netball League
                                      Pride                                    last week.                                                                                                           Picture: MARK STEWART. s36wh999

                                    ■ Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels
                                                                               David Turner                              team, the State League needed                Valley Grammar Ariels signed-on              ‘‘People forget we’re still,
                                      v VU Western Lightning                                                             revamping.                                   as the Class of ’09.                        largely, 16 or 17-year-olds.
                                    ■ Peninsula Waves v Monash                 VICTORIAN netball will take a               A State League Advisory Group               A hectic pre-season tournament              ‘‘But, they’re stronger in the
                                      University Central                       bold step forward when a new              was established and, after months            has just concluded and the 10               body, mentally stronger.
                                    ■ Boroondara Genesis v                     elite club competition takes to the       of careful consideration, it was             clubs are fit and ready for action.          ‘‘I really do believe the girls
                                      Hume City Falcons                        court this Friday night.                  decided that a 10-team compe-                 After reaching the finals in the           have learned a lot from last year.
                                                                                 After more than a decade as the         tition, with each fielding a Cham-           past two seasons, the young Yarra           We really want to finish top-two
                                    For scores, ladders and                    state’s premier netball compe-            pionship Division, Division 1 and            Valley Grammar Ariels outfit is             and make the Grand Final.’’
                                                                               tition, the State League has been         19&under team, would be the best             setting itself to take a couple of
                                    fixtures log onto:                          replaced by a revamped compe-             way to maintain a smooth path-               big steps this year.
                                                                               tition format – the Victorian
                                                                               Netball League – and 10 clubs are
                                                                                                                         way from grassroots netball to
                                                                                                                         the elite level.
                                                                                                                                                                       Coach Christina Puopolo, like
                                                                                                                                                                      most, is eagerley awaiting the               Media partner
                                                                               positioning themselves to claim             Clubs would be expected to meet            inaugural season.
                                                                               the inaugural championship.               rigorous criteria with greater                She has retained the majority of            LEADER Community News-
                                                                                 In 2007, when it was announced          emphasis on the off-court support            the squad that lost to VU Western            papers will maintain its com-
                                                                               that Australia’s national league          structures needed for players and            Lightning in the elimination                 mitment to local sport after
                                                                               was to be replaced by a Trans-            coaches to perform at their best.            semi-final last season.                      signing-on as the media part-
                                                                               Tasman competition (with five               When the initial dust had                   And, the young Ariels line-up               ner for the Victorian Netball
                                                                               Australian and five New Zealand           settled, the first 10 licences were          now believes it belongs at the               League.
                                                                               teams), Victoria went from two            awarded.                                     pointy end of the state’s elite                As Victorian netball takes
                                                                               teams at the elite level, the               And, Ballarat Pride, Boroondara            competition.                                 this exciting step forward,
                                    Check out all the action                   Phoenix and the Kestrels, to just         Genesis, Geelong Cougars, Hume                ‘‘(We’re) still a fairly young              fans of the new competition
                                    pictures at:                               one, the Vixens.                          City Falcons, Monash University              squad (19 or 20 of the 30-strong list        will be able to follow the
                                                                                 Most at the time felt that, if it       Central, North-East Blaze, Penin-            are in their teens) but they’ve had          action both in the pages of
                                                    was to remain the underpinning            sula Waves, Southern Saints, VU              another year (under their belts),’’          their local Leader and on-
                                                                               competition for Victoria’s elite          Western Lightning and Yarra                  Puopolo said.                                line at

                                   A QUICK GLANCE AT THE DEBUTANTES
                                   BALLARAT PRIDE                             GEELONG COUGARS                            MONASH UNI CENTRAL                           PENINSULA WAVES                             VU WESTERN LIGHTNING
                                   Colours: Navy and sky blue                 Colours: Navy, white and silver            Colours: Black, white, blue and red          Colours: Yellow, navy blue, hot pink        Colours: Royal blue, white and red
                                   Coach: Jo Dash                             Coach: Leah Wilson                         Coach: Kristy Keppich-Birrell                and pale blue                               Coach: Joy Grubb
                                   They say: ‘‘It’s very exciting. A lot of   They say: ‘‘We’re a new group. They        They say: ‘‘It’s a little bit daunting,      Coach: Robynn Pym                           They say: ‘‘We’re a new side this year
                                   work went into getting one of the 10       (Geelong squad) are so keen, so tal-       they are big shoes to fill (taking over      They say: ‘‘Peninsula, just by history in   and we know we’re going to take a few
                                   licences. Putting it all together has      ented and they seem to be so tall and      from Gillian Lee). But, in the main, Gill    the past three years, has been in the       weeks to gel together, but our aim has
                                   been a very interesting experience.        athletic these days. We’d like to win      and I have a similar approach. We            bottom two on the ladder. I believe we      to be to make the finals and then see

                                   Our plan is to be there on August 12       more games than we lose, I always          have a few new players and the older         can beat four teams above us now. So        how we go. I’d love us to be able to go
                                   (Grand Final day). But, realistically,     aim for that with my coaching. Where       players have been very receptive to          I believe we are going to be midfield       one better this year. (Joy Grubb).
                                   our very really goal and ambition and      that leaves us on the ladder, who          the changes.’’ (Kristy Keppich-Birrell)      for the first year. And, in the second      We reckon: Preliminary finalists last
                                   desire is to, at the very least, be        knows?’’ (Leah Wilson)                     We reckon: Arguably, the best support        and third years, we rise and go into the    year. An injury-plagued pre-season
                                   competitive.’’ (Jo Dash)                   We reckon: If it can harness the           structures, off-court, and loads of          top four.’’ (Robyn Pym)                     hasn’t given the squad a lot of confi-
                                   We reckon: Ballarat will punish sides      brilliant talent from Warrnambool          coaching talent around the club.             We reckon: With a good mix of young         dence. But, if it can, consistently, get
                                   that take it lightly, but the step up to   through Colac to Geelong, there is         Throw in a mix of seasoned cam-              guns and experienced performers, the        its side together the Lightning could
                                   Championship Division will be a tough      little doubting the Cougars will soon      paigners and classy youngsters and           Waves could well surprise some of the       push towards the finals again.
                                   test initially.                            be a force to be reckoned with.            it’s hard to go past a Monash v Hume         top teams this season.                      YV GRAMMAR ARIELS
                                   BOROONDARA GENESIS                         HUME CITY FALCONS                          final yet again.                             SOUTHERN SAINTS                             Colours: Yellow, black, red, royal blue,
                                   Colours: Silver, teal and navy             Colours: Red, royal blue and white         NORTH-EAST BLAZE                             Colours: Black, red, white and yellow       silver.
                                   Coach: Richelle McKenzie                   Coach: Marg Lind                           Colours: Black, orange and pink              Coach: Debra Armstrong                      Coach: Christina Puopolo
                                   They say: ‘‘We’ve been coming              They say: ‘‘There’s been a lot of          Coach: Karen Worland                         They say: ‘‘We hope (Chelsey Nash) is       They say: ‘‘(We’re) still a fairly young
                                   together nicely. It’s (the Genesis         changes in the off-season, but the         They say: ‘‘The players are very keen        playing full time for the Vixens and not    squad but they’ve had another year
                                   squad) a good blend of young players       whole club is coming together really       to learn. They are a very motivated          us, (but) we’ll be thrilled to have her     (under their belts). But, they’re
                                   and experienced. To work with experi-      well. To have the youngsters training      group. But, at the moment, they really       on the court.We have a good side. The       stronger in the body, mentally
                                   enced players and to have experi-          with the senior girls, I think everyone    want to learn what is required to play       girls have had a phenomenal pre-            stronger. I really do believe the girls
                                   enced players about on the court will      is going to be a winner out of that.’’     at this level and I couldn’t ask any         season.’’ (Debra Armstrong)                 have learned a lot from last year. We
                                   help the young ones develop.’’             (Marg Lind)                                more of them than that.’’ (Karen             We reckon: A blend of the most              really want to finish top-two and make
                                   (Richelle McKenzie)                        We reckon: The Falcons have unfin-         Worland).                                    successful club in State League his-        the Grand Final.’’ (Christina Puopolo)
                                   We reckon: After signing a top-shelf       ished business after losing the last       We reckon: Tapping-in to Melbourne’s         tory (Eastside) and a recent star of        We reckon: Now the pre-eminent team
                                   coaching staff and some impressive         State League Grand Final and, if pre-      rapidly expanding north-east, the            Division 1 (Bayside Stingers), the          in Melbourne’s netball-rich outer-east,

                                   off-season recruiting, Boroondara          season form counts for anything,           Blaze is positioning itself to be a future   Saints will be competitive this season.     Ariels will be desperate to deliver on
                                   looks likely to be the season’s big        Hume will, again, be a force. Finals are   force. Likely to be a season of finding      Some handy signings make the Saints         its potential. A make-or-break season
                                   improver.                                  a formality, top two is likely.            its feet in the top flight.                  a bit of a dark horse.                      ahead.

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