Newcastle Netball Association will make up almost half of this year’s Hunter Academy of Sport netball program, with 23 of its players aged 14 to 17 years being selected in the 48-member squad.
All the youngsters came together recently at the annual orientation day at Hunter Valley Grammar School, where they were introduced to the coaching staff and presented with their uniform by former Academy member and now national representative Sam Poolman.
The talent development initiative exposes young athletes from across the wider Hunter Valley to a world-class standard of training and tutelage without the need to uproot them from home and make them travel to a metropolitan centre.
It also plays a vital role in the Netball NSW Athlete Pathway by identifying, monitoring and developing the skills of the teenagers.
The program will consist of on-court skills training, fitness and athlete education as per the Netball Australia Develop a Diamond program.
The Newcastle players included in this year’s squad are: Jillarnie Ahoy, Charlee Belcher, Jordan Parsons, Indy Hilder, Taylah-Jane Belcher, Mia Marshall, Ella Tupou, Chloe Cook, Alice Elliot, Eve Keeling, Chloe-Grace Pattison, Xanthe Rheinberger, Matilda Lidbury, Aela Streatfield, Jaylah Boney, Madeline Ferry, Ella Smith, Caitlin Dale, Acacia Elers, Elle Kaluski, Carrie Lind, Tynisha Faasisila and Xuela Faasisila.
Greater Bank will once again take on the major sponsorship of the initiative, continuing its long-standing association with the Hunter Academy of Sport.
Head of marketing and customer experience Matt Hingston said the partnership was about more than just providing a financial benefit to the Academy and athletes.
“Greater Bank is proud to continue our support of the Hunter Academy of Sport’s Netball Program, which stems from a relationship that spans more than two decades,” he added.
“Supporting the communities that support us is the foundation Greater Bank has been built on.
“Now, more than ever we are thrilled to be able to assist this home-grown talented group of athletes as they continue to work towards their sporting goals following the major, yet necessary, disruptions we’ve seen over the past 12 months.
“Our partnership will provide more than funding to help offset the program costs for the athletes.
“This year we are looking to again provide them with financial literacy education sessions, in association with the University of Newcastle, which will assist in their personal development both on and off the court.”
The squad will train weekly in the lead up to the NSW State Titles in June where they will represent the Newcastle Association in their respective age groups.
In April, they’ll represent the Hunter at the 2021 Your Local Club Academy Games at Maitland Basketball Stadium and, later in the year, will travel to Orange for the Greater Bank Academy Challenge where they will compete against 10 other Regional Academies of Sport (RAS) from across the state.