All rested and raring to go? Five months into our programme, a firmly established Academy, higher participation at our training classes and several match wins later, you bet we are!
Before we plow forward, it’s a good time to take stock on our journey from September to now, with a great deal having happened during those few months since England Netball awarded us the Pathway last summer. Of course, our number one task back then was to very quickly formalise and embed an Academy programme to attract talented netballers to compete nationally on behalf of the Rhinos. We’re really pleased with all we have achieved here, not to mention humbled by the 200+ athletes who train with us and choose to represent our club. The Rhinos Rugby squad often talk about the pride which comes from being a Rhino and our netball athletes can feel equally as proud as their rugby peers.
Speaking of pride, our match play season could not have started any better with some fantastic on-court action reflecting all of the hard work happening at training week on week. We’ve had quite a few game opportunities for our Academy and Elite squads, with some great results and learning to bring back to base camp, and we’re looking forward to more in the second half of the season. It does feel as though the wind’s in our sails currently, which is all we could wish for ahead of our first ever Home game this February. On that note, we would love your support at the EIS in Sheffield on the 9th when we take on North East. Tickets are free – all you need do is register online here to reserve your seat and come along with your cheering hat on!
Coincidently, February 9 is also our first ever Coaches Conference – again, at the EIS – where we’re partnering with Yorkshire Netball and the UK’s most successful domestic coach, Tamsin Greenway, to deliver a session packed with technique, tactics, game analysis and more. On top of the educational benefits you’ll find this session provides a fantastic opportunity to network with like-minded peers from within your region and beyond. In short, if you’re coaching a team and want to learn from our industry’s best, this is a must-attend session. We currently have spaces available so, if you plan to join us, sign up here today and it’s job done.
Now, you’ll appreciate our world is one on a permanent tilt towards netball but it has to be said, there is a slight feeling of ‘netball fever’ at the minute. Undoubtedly, the Roses’ Comm Games Gold win started things off and netball has been gaining in momentum ever since; not one but TWO wins at this year’s SPOTY spoke volumes on how we’re currently seen by the wider sporting community. It certainly appears the Roses are on the crest of a wave right now, with their performance in the recent Quad series one to be proud of and placing them in great stead for this year’s World Cup! Superleague is well underway and we’re all watching with a keen eye, hoping we’ll be there competing against these amazing athletes next season with our very own Rhinos team! Besides the national activity, there’s more happening locally with podcasts like Netball Nation coming to the party; where lead coach Maggie Birkinshaw and I were pleased to share our thoughts on the current state of play earlier this month.
Back at HQ, we have plenty to celebrate aside to our match results – like U19 NPL competition squad members Laura Kelly and Nat Karkoszka being selected for British College, and our own Pathway Coach, Emily Perry, asked to help England Futures with the Quad Series preparation and warm-up games against the Diamonds, Silver Ferns and SPAR Proteas. We recently recruited our first ever Netball Development Officer and are extremely pleased to welcome Rachel Dauber to the Rhinos family. Rachel will be driving our programme’s expansion into new areas across the region to increase participation in netball – or, should we say, further increase participation since wherever we turn – Pathway, Hubs and Minis classes – our numbers are well and truly climbing. With this in mind, we are on a quest for volunteers to help us form a Talent Management Group to manage our ongoing growth and set some policies in place for delivery; it’s open to anybody, whatever their netball experience, and you’ll find details of the types of roles we need to fill on our website here.
Well, we did tell you it’s all systems go this year!
Anna Carter, Director of Netball