The Narrandera Netball Association sent three teams travelled to the 2018 Netball NSW State Age Championships as part of their representative program.
The teams – the under 12s, the under 14s and the under 15s – spent four days away from home in order to compete in Sydney.
“We left Friday morning, and we got back Monday night. We had early starts, so we were early to bed. Games start at 8am in the morning and they go all day,” said Melissa Brooker, one of the co-ordinators of the representative netball program alongside Michelle Smith.
“I’d never been before, and I had no idea how massive it was. We were getting up at 5.30am to get to the courts by 7.15am, for games that started at 8.00am. But we had great weather. I think if it had been raining it would have been difficult.
“I think it makes it so much easier when you’ve got a great bunch of kids and parents. We couldn’t have gotten there without Michelle. She organised everything, she made it all possible for us to go there,” Ms Booker said.
The teams play between four and five carnivals locally, before heading to Sydney for the 2018 State Age Championships.
“State Age is the final one,” Ms Brooker explained. “It’s a massive commitment from the girls. They’re playing local netball, and not only that, they’re doing other sports too. So to put another night’s training in, it’s a huge commitment.
“Even from the parents, the coaches and managers – we all volunteer our time to do this. We just love it; we wouldn’t be doing it otherwise.”
All three teams showed a massive improvement from last year. “From what I can gather, the14s and 15s placed well. Our under 12s finished ninth out of 18 spots, and this is only their first year at it.
“It was a massive learning curve for them. State age is unbelievable. It’s very competitive, so it’s a massive learning curve for all the girls. But in saying that, it’s such an awesome experience for them to have, it’s great.
“Last year they were the wooden spooners, but they weren’t the wooden spooners this year. To watch them grow from the start to the State Age – they improved out of sight.”
Despite the challenges last year, the Narrandera representative netball team developed a reputation at the 2017 State Age for excellent sportsmanship, both on and off the court.
Parents, coaches and referees from other teams took the time to pass on how impressed they were with the wonderful attitude and enthusiasm that the Narrandera side showed at last year’s State Age, and this year was no different.
“They all showed great sportsmanship over the weekend. They were competitive, but they showed fantastic sportsmanship, both on and off the court.
“It was a pleasure to go away with the girls; they’re an awesome bunch of girls. It’s something that they will remember for a long time,” Ms Brooker said.
The Barellan and District representative netball side also had another excellent season, with both their under 15s side and their under 13s team winning their respective divisions.