AUSTRALIAN Diamonds star Caitlin Thwaites has reiterated her support for Bendigo’s bid for a Victorian Netball League (VNL) licence.
Four years after narrowly missing out on a franchise licence, a consortium has again lodged a submission with Netball Victoria.
The consortium expects to learn whether it has been successful on Wednesday (September 5).
Thwaites, who was back in Bendigo this week to take charge of a training session for Sandhurst’s junior and senior netballers at the QEO, said she was 100 per cent behind the bid.
“It’s a great way to enhance the pathway of country kids, being able to make it to the top and continue on with their netball beyond a schooling age and take it to the next step,” she said.
“It would be a really big thing for Bendigo. I guess a lot of players are already doing it and doing it off their own bat without having a (Bendigo) team involved, but it’s made that bit harder.
“It would be great pushing forward with a team, there are so many players that have reached the top level that have come from this region.
“It makes a lot of sense to be able to support those players who want to pursue it as a pathway.”
The proposed club will support a catchment through the northern corridor from Gisborne to Echuca and as far as Mildura and would play its home games at Bendigo Stadium.
Recounting her own experiences as an emerging player, Thwaites was confident a VNL team could only increase the opportunities for the cream of the region’s netball talent.
“I kind of got plucked out of the country, but that was purely by chance that the Melbourne Kestrels had come for a practice match here and the coaches happened to see me out there playing,” she said.
“It was an amazing thing to happen.
“But for more Bendigo players to be exposed to the coaches and selectors, (a VNL team) is only going to assist players to be able to do it, opposed to a random chance.”
Four Bendigo players – Zoe Davies, Imogen Sexton, Meg Williams and Ruby Barkmeyer – had involvement in the weekend’s VNL grand finals.