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Exciting time for Hunter netballers, says Poolman

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Homegrown netball star Sam Poolman is excited to see the HART Senior State Titles heading to the Hunter this weekend.

The Maitland District Netball Association (MDNA) will host the opens (championship), under-15s and under-17s (Div 1 and 2), as well as open men’s (Div 1 and 2), from Saturday 10 to Monday 12 June, while Newcastle Netball Association (NNA) stages the opens (Div 2 and 3), under-15s and under-17s (Div 3 and 4), and all abilities, at its complex.

That means more than 10,000 people are predicted to flock to both centres.

Local representative outfits Callaghan District, Charlestown, Maitland and Newcastle will contest the opens (championship), while Kurri Kurri, Lakeside and Westlakes District eye off division two and Cessnock, Nelson Bay and Singleton division three.

In the under-17s, Newcastle is primed for the top grade, with Callaghan District, Cessnock, Charlestown, Lakeside and Maitland (Div 2) and Kurri Kurri, Muswellbrook, Nelson Bay, Port Stephens and Singleton (Div 3) fighting it out in the other sections.

The biggest age group, the under-15s, features Newcastle (championship), Callaghan District, Charlestown, Lakeside, Maitland, Westlakes District (division two), Cessnock, Muswellbrook, Scone & District, Singleton (division three), Kurri Kurri and Port Stephens (division four).

The men will make their mark, too, with Newcastle (Div 1), Charlestown, Kurri Kurri and Lakeside (Div 2) taking part.

Newcastle is also fielding an all-abilities side.

Former GIANTS Netball star Sam Poolman.

“It’s great to have the Senior State Titles in the Hunter,” Poolman said.

“As a former netball rep, the championships is the pinnacle thing in your life at a young age.

“Maitland has done extensive work to upgrade its complex.

“So, for them to host this event is a terrific opportunity for not only the MDNA but the wider community in that area.

“Any chance we have to showcase netball in our region is fabulous.

“I truly believe we deserve it.

“We’ve got so many fantastic associations, not only in the Hunter but also Northern Inland and the North Coast.

“But, to be able to stage a big event on the Netball NSW calendar, without travelling to Sydney, can only be a positive thing for the sport locally.”

Although she retired in 2021, Poolman’s passion is as evident today as it always was.

A proud product of the Netball NSW Pathway from Newcastle, she represented her state at the National Underage Championships, as well as the NNSW Waratahs in the former Australian Netball League.

In 2011, she was an athlete at the Australian Institute of Sport before being offered her first National League contract with Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2013.

At 22, Poolman made her debut in her maiden year with the Thunderbirds and was a part of their 2013 premiership-winning side.

In 2017, she returned home to NSW to form part of the inaugural GIANTS line-up.

She also represented Australia at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level and played for the green and gold in both the 2017 and 2018 Fast5 World Series, captaining the team in 2018.

The now 32-year-old heads her Aspire Netball program as well.

Sam Poolman at the recent Grow A Star fundraiser. Photo: Rod Thompson

However, Poolman dreams of witnessing the emergence of the region as a powerhouse on the state stage.

And, that mightn’t be too far down the track.

Hunter Netball is expected to lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) to Netball NSW in the near future to become the 10th licensee in the elite Premier League.

It’s a move the Novocastrian’s backing all the way.

“We have a really large catchment to work with in the Hunter,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“I see that through our Aspire programs.

“There are plenty of those girls who’ve got the ambition to go further along the pathway.

“We have the Newcastle Knights (NRLW), Newcastle Jets (A-League Women’s) and Hunter Wildfires (Jack Scott Cup) competing at the highest level.

“So, I certainly support the [Hunter Netball] bid.

“I credit Jodi Cassar for that; she’s done an incredible amount of work.

“It takes a collective, united region to pull off something like this.

“If it’s not right now, I think there’s potential for it moving forward.

“We boast such a huge pool to draw talent from… and it would definitely inspire the local players if they could take to the state or national court representing their own region.”

HART Senior State Titles Hunter representatives:

  • Opens (championship): Callaghan District, Charlestown, Maitland, Newcastle
  • Opens (division two): Kurri Kurri, Lakeside, Westlakes District
  • Opens (division three): Cessnock, Nelson Bay, Singleton
  • Under-17s (championship): Newcastle
  • Under-17s (division two): Callaghan District, Cessnock, Charlestown, Lakeside, Maitland
  • Under-17s (division three): Kurri Kurri, Muswellbrook, Nelson Bay, Port Stephens, Singleton
  • Under-15s (championship): Newcastle
  • Under-15s (division two): Callaghan District, Charlestown, Lakeside, Maitland, Westlakes District
  • Under-15s (division three): Cessnock, Muswellbrook, Scone & District, Singleton
  • Under-15s (division four): Kurri Kurri, Port Stephens
  • Open men’s (division one): Newcastle
  • Open men’s (division two): Charlestown, Kurri Kurri, Lakeside
  • All-abilities: Newcastle

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