Netball association must adapt to continue

March 10, 2018

Right on target: Kyabram goalshooter Elle Groves impressed as the Bombers defeated the Swans at Princess Park.

Competitions like the Shepparton Netball Association need to adapt its ways according to a sporting body chief.

Office for Women in Sport and Recreation head Bridie O’Donnell was in Shepparton earlier this month discussing the state of women’s sport in the region.

In a forum where sporting bodies voiced opinions, O’Donnell said one of the major concerns surrounded how the SNA co-existed with football and netball leagues.

‘‘There was interesting dialogue between the netball representatives and what they’ve got to face now with country football/netball clubs seeing players move to different opportunities and different culture provided by the football/netball clubs, so it’s difficult for the association,’’she said.

‘‘The output support for clubs needs to be more open to changing.

‘‘Often we can do things a certain way and sport and recreation are changing rapidly, not sticking so rigidly to scheduling and learning from other sports.’’

The Goulburn Valley League has introduced an under-15s competition this season, expanding from just under-17s as its only junior division.

But GVL clubs continue to support the SNA and many will enter sides into the association and league competitions.

Women’s football continues to grow in the region, with the Northern Country Women’s League expanding after just one year, O’Donnell said other sports should not be concerned about its rise.

‘‘Lots of sports described the challenges a code like football could pose, it’s becoming very attractive with women who are taking up sports not traditionally in their space,’’ she said.

‘‘But it’s about thinking about what your sport can offer and the promotion and marketing of that sport.

‘‘Some don’t have world championships and world cups and I think it’s natural that people want to try the sport their parents might have played.’’

O’Donnell weighed into the Picola District Football Netball League’s splitting with AFL Goulburn Murray, acknowledging the position of both sides.

‘‘(I read about) the resistance AFL clubs have to the way the new structure was going to work and I appreciate it’s not the right system for every club,’’ she said.

‘‘The upside of having AFL Victoria overseeing is in education and leadership, and consistency is a good thing.

‘‘Clubs are a bit anxious about change but change doesn’t need to be frightening.’’

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