A REVIEW of Victoria’s premier state netball league has left the door ajar for a North Central-based franchise to join the elite competition.
Bendigo's chance to join elite competition
Netball Victoria announced this week it would offer renewed licences to nine of the 10 existing clubs in the Victorian Netball League, which is now in its sixth year.
Ballarat Pride will not be granted automatic renewal, but will have the chance to apply for the remaining licence along with other interested parties from across the state.
Within hours of the decision being released, netballers from the North Central region had used social media to discuss a possible local bid.
“How about forming a group to try and get a VNL licence for Bendigo and surrounds,” Kangaroo Flat A-grade netball coach Jannelle Hobbs posted via Facebook.
“Let’s all get behind this, would bring fantastic opportunities not only for players but also coaches, umpires, administrators, scorers, etc.”
Echuca-based umpire Kylie Pearce replied: “What a fabulous idea.”
The Bendigo Football Netball League discussed the issue of a VNL licence last season, but it was not a high priority and there were no vacancies at the time.
Board member Melissa Ryan told the Bendigo Advertiser on Wednesday it was still on the agenda and the process was being explored, but there was no definite time frame in mind.
Ryan, an assistant coach with VNL club VU Western Lightning, said the process of maintaining a franchise licence was comprehensive and required a lot of time and manpower.
It was disappointing for Ballarat that it had not been offered another licence, she said.
Ryan is also in charge of netball talent identification in this region.
“Any opportunity for kids in our area to take the step to a higher level of netball is always high on my personal agenda,” she said.
The Victorian Netball League was established in 2009, with games played at Championship, division one and 17-and-under level.
In 2014, at least five current and former BFNL players are on VNL club lists, including Chloe Watson (Sandhurst Dragons), Brianna Dalrymple-Monro (Strathfieldsaye Storm), Maddie Stewart (Gisborne Bulldogs), Brooke Bolton (Sandhurst Dragons) and Monica Wellington (Kangaroo Flat Roos).
Several other players are part of VNL club development programs.
Groups seeking entry to the VNL would need to show Netball Victoria they have a viable business plan and off-court support structures.
An information session will be held in Melbourne next Tuesday.