BENDIGO will continue to be without its own team in the Victorian Netball League at least until 2023.
Netball Victoria yesterday announced the inclusion of one new team into the state league competition for the 2019-23 seasons and it’s not Bendigo.
The sole new licence has been granted to Casey Demons, who will join existing clubs Boroondara Express, City West Falcons, DC North East Blaze, Geelong Cougars, Hawks Netball, Melbourne University Lightning, Peninsula Waves, Southern Saints and Ariels VCNA from next season.
In a further blow to country netballers and communities, the slightly revamped league will have one have just one regional-based team, with Ballarat Sovereigns, who have been a feature of the league for the last four seasons, losing their licence.
Four years after narrowly missing out on a franchise licence, a consortium had reignited Bendigo’s bid to join the premier netball league under the banner of North Central Strikers.
The consortium had key backing from the Bendigo Stadium where the Strikers were to be based, City of Greater Bendigo and La Trobe University, but it was to no avail.
Working party spokesperson Melissa Ryan said she was personally gutted by Bendigo’s exclusion and believed plenty of others connected with netball in the region would also be bitterly disappointed.
“We are waiting on feedback from Netball Victoria in relation to the selection criteria and the benchmarks and we need to look at that feedback and decide what we do going forward,” she said.
“I personally believe our athletes in this area, our coaches, our umpires and our community are deserving of this opportunity.”
The decision comes only days after Bendigo region athletes featured so prominently on the VNL’s biggest stage on grand final day.
Zoe Davies (Eaglehawk) was named best on court in City West Falcons’ championship win against Geelong Cougars. The Falcons team also included Sandhurst youngster Imogen Sexton.
I personally believe our athletes in this area, our coaches, our umpires and our community are deserving of this opportunity.Melissa Ryan
Her Dragons team-mate Meg Williams captained DC North East Blaze in the under-19 grand final against Boroondara Express and was later that evening named in the VNL team of the year alongside Geelong Cougars goal shooter Ruby Barkmeyer (Kangaroo Flat).
Melbourne University Lightning’s Maddy Stewart (Gisborne) was named in the championship division team of the year, while Sovereigns’ Ash Ryan was selected in the division one team of the year.
Now spared a choice between a potential Bendigo team and her long-time club Melbourne University, Gisborne star Stewart she was as disappointed as anyone the Bendigo submission had not been successful.
“Bendigo obviously put in a great application and I know from the coaches they had and the players they would access to there would be a lot of strength,” she said.
“In some ways it makes my life easier, but I am disappointed knowing the tie and effort that went into it.”
The choice of Casey Demons as the league’s newest licence holder strikes as odd, given its close proximity to existing franchises Peninsula Waves, Boroondara, Hawks and Ariels.
A statement from Netball Victoria said each application was assessed by an independent selection panel as well as Netball Victoria’s general manager – high performance.
“All applications were carefully considered by the panel, aligning with certain criteria as outlined by Netball Victoria,” the statement read.
“The application process was re-framed to focus on the ability to develop athletes, coaches and club personnel in addition to driving good governance practices, sustainability and on court performance.”
Meanwhile, Sovereigns president Bill Mundy voiced his disappointment in the decision, saying a critical pathway to higher levels of netball for young women in the western region of Victoria had been lost.
“The decision by Netball Victoria to reject the club’s application for a licence was a blow to all the young women in the western districts of Victoria who have either the talent or the ambition to play at the highest level of the game, we are extremely disappointed and even more disappointed for the young women in the region,” Mundy told Fairfax newspaper The Courier.
“The decision to remove the club from the competition removes yet another elite pathway from the sporting community for the region and forces young women with talent and ambition to travel further, incur more expense or move further from family and friends to realise their dreams”
Netball Victoria statement
Netball Victoria has announced the 10 clubs who have received licenses to play in the Bupa Victorian Netball League (VNL).
As the premier netball competition in Victoria, each application was assessed by an independent selection panel as well as Netball Victoria’s General Manager – High Performance.
All applications were carefully considered by the panel, aligning with certain criteria as outlined by Netball Victoria.
In preparation for the new licence period, a review of the league and its processes was undertaken in late 2017, in which all license holders at the time were consulted.
The application process was re-framed to focus on the ability to develop athletes, coaches and club personnel in addition to driving good governance practices, sustainability and on court performance.
Netball Victoria will continue to work with licensees in regards to the further development of the Bupa VNL competition, and ensuring it continues to grow and meet competition objectives. Our future aspiration for the VNL competition is that it expands and that we are able to have even more clubs participating at this level.
Furthermore, to support this aspiration, Netball Victoria is committed to developing regional hubs across the state, in key locations, to enable access to our pathway for all of our netball community.
These regional centres will support our associations, leagues and clubs and local communities.
They will also maximise the opportunities arising from the State Netball and Hockey Centre redevelopment to benefit those who play our sport across the state.
We are pleased to announce the successful license holders for the 2019-2023 competitions are:
City West Falcons
Casey Demons (new in 2019)
DC North East Blaze
Melbourne University Lightning
Wilson Storage Southern Saints
Netball Victoria Chief Executive Officer, Rosie King congratulated the successful applicants.
“We are pleased to accept the applications of nine current clubs and look forward to welcoming the Casey Demons to the league in 2019,” said King.
Rosie said the strength of the competition is imperative in the high-performance pathways.
“The Bupa VNL aims to be the strongest state league competition in Australia and is an integral piece of the Netball Victoria athlete, coach and officials’ pathways.
"Our Zone Academy continues to provide access to talent development for players and coaches.
"A new operating model for the Zone Academy program is about to be launched to further drive development outcomes within the program and in the associations.
“The success and importance of the league is evident in Suncorp Super Netball, arguably the world’s best domestic competition, with 18 Victorian athletes, nine Victorian training partners, 11 Victorian coaches and five umpires participating in the 2018 season.
“We pride ourselves on the strength of our pathways and to have the VNL grow each year, particularly with one of Australia’s leading health and care companies, Bupa on board as naming rights sponsor this year, is a testament to this, and the hard work of all clubs and VNL administrators.”
The Bupa VNL will commence in April 2019 at the State Netball and Hockey Centre.
For information regarding the competition and for club trials, please visit www.netballvic.com.au.