NCG Senior B goal shoot, Lydia Swaney is crowded my Marist Black players Gloria O'Connor, left, and Olivia Williams, right, as she receives a pass during their game on Saturday. Photo: Jessie Johnston.

Netball season gets underway

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Saturday and premier league netball is well underway and Nelson Netball is looking forward to another great season.

Players kicked things off on April 2 with the annual Geraldine Hodgson pre-season club tournament, giving teams a handy opportunity to get back on the courts for competitive play before the start of the 2017 competition.

Opening night for the premier grade was on Thursday, April 13, while grading took place for senior three and below on April 8, along with round one for senior one and two.

April 29 marked the start of netball for senior 3 and below and when the year five and six teams take to the court this weekend, Saturday netball will be at full capacity.

Nelson Netball Centre manager Lindsay Filiata says they have 164 teams involved in premier, senior, college and junior netball, with another 100 teams in the year one to six grades.

“It was good to see team numbers remain static,” says Lindsay. “In the premier competition we’re running with seven teams and the whole competition structure has changed by going to three rounds instead of two. What I’m hoping to see is more opportunities for people to move between grades, so when we get into that last round it should be a really competitive run into finals, which will be great to see. For me, this being my first season, it’s just about getting an understanding of how netball works in Nelson and seeing everyone out there and so far, it’s looking great.”

Lindsay says their umpire numbers are also looking healthy, although it’s an area Nelson Netball is looking to improve. “It’s always a challenge to get enough umpires but we’ve got a steady amount. What we need to do is build to get some through to the next level up, we’re quite bottom heavy at the moment in terms of their qualification pathway,” says Lindsay. “The people are there to make it happen, it’s just a slower process because it takes a year or two for them to work through the qualification but there’s a fantastic support network in place this year and the clubs are stepping up and doing their umpire duties too.”

Other changes this season include two new faces in the Nelson Netball office. After working with the centre for the last three seasons, development officer Dayna Whiting has moved on to be Director of Sport at Nayland College. Filling the role will be Tracey Rayner from Auckland/Waitakere, while Shar Lowe will be joining the centre as the new umpire development officer.