Great rural netballers continue to give back

Impressive: Amy Loechel and Olivia Bolt (Scholz), pictured as River Murray team members, are celebrating the 10th anniversary of winning Country Championship title.

Impressive: Amy Loechel and Olivia Bolt (Scholz), pictured as River Murray team members, are celebrating the 10th anniversary of winning Country Championship title.

Each year, on the June long weekend, teams from the River Murray Netball Association participate in a three-day competition against other regions within South Australia known as the Country Champs.

In June 2008 the same thing happened, except on that occasion for the first time ever the RMNA, A grade team took out the championship for seniors.

Last weekend was the 10th anniversary of that first success, a reason for all within the association to be proud of, but some may say why?

The last 10 years have not been the easiest in rural South Australia, the fact that sporting associations and clubs are continuing to exist and provide the opportunity for players to enjoy the game they love, is in some cases amazing.

In 2008 at the championships that year there were two grades of seniors competing, that is 16 country regions playing the level of netball that makes them think they could be the best in the State, this year there were eight.

We are lucky here within our association that from the team that took out that first title, four players still play in our A grade competition ten years on, from Imperials Olivia Bolt, from Mannum Amy Loechel and from Mypolonga Sheridan O’Brien and Courtney Blacker.

All of these ladies are not only still playing, but they are also giving back to their own clubs by taking on various tasks including coaching the up and coming generation.

To these ladies and the rest of the team from 2008, I say congratulations on your achievements and an even bigger, congratulations, to these four for giving back and keeping the sport growing within our region.

Round 11 tip: Be innovative and creative, dare to be different, a change to training can add so much more than you may think.

Imperials v Mypolonga

Imperials will host Mypolonga in what should be a competitive game of netball.

Imperials last week accounted for Mannum with no real hardship to the team or players. Mypolonga had a slightly tougher game against Jervois.

The big difference is that Imperial coach Carrie Daniels could rotate her players without too much overthinking.

Mypolonga coach Sandy Gates had to put a little more effort into her player selection, especially after losing the first quarter to the Bluds.

Both teams will have finals firmly planted in their minds, and will now be making plans and choices with that focus.

Imperials have so far been solid with their team selections and player availability, not to mention the dreaded injury list, while Mypolonga have had a little movement in and around their team.

Shooters for both sides will need to be accurate this week, as defensive rebounds will be at a quite high percentage rate, as all defenders are quite strong.

Imperials has the best options available to them throughout the centre court area of play, players like Olivia Bolt, Laura Berling, Genna Harkness and Lucy Harkness gives Daniels plenty of options, let alone the fact that just about any of her defenders and shooters can also step into the middle area of the court.

Gates, on the other hand, has a generally younger and slightly less experienced centre court  in which to make her decisions from, except of course the experienced Courtney Blacker.

This should be a very interesting game to watch – last time these two teams met in round four Imperials ran out winners by nine goals. On that occasion Imperials were the settled team, while Mypolonga were still playing within a squad format and in fact did not have Gates as their coach on that occasion, plus a couple of players.

Who will win this game?

It should be Imperials on results so far this season; but Gates knows there is only one game to win and everything she plans and does will work towards finding the right combination team for that final one.

Tailem Bend v Mannum

Tailem Bend will welcome Mannum this week in a game that is not going to be played at the usual time - both of the clubs have agreed to the later time slot of 6.30pm.

Tailem Bend felt that the time had come for the footballers to come, watch and support the netballers instead of the other way around and Mannum have supported the move.

This changed dynamic should make this game an interesting one indeed, football is a different competitive style of game so, providing they keep that in mind on the sidelines this will be an interesting experiment.

Tailem has had some close results against teams above them on the table, so even though they currently sit outside the top four, this team is determined for better results.

Mannum will take the court this week not at full strength as they continue the rebuild of what was once one of the strongest clubs within the association.

Every club has the ebbs and flows within team selections as senior players retire and younger ones step up, that changing of the guard is still happening at Mannum and players and coach Nicky Smith are still searching for the answers necessary.

Last time these two teams met it was a four-goal victory to Tailem, one in which they led at each break throughout the game.

This time around Smith and her girls will be looking for a change in that tally and will be looking at taking the Eagles on quarter by quarter and seeking that goal plus one at each quarter to give them the two points and potentially put them into fifth spot.

Coaches for Tailem, Trudy Connolly and Denise Edwards, however will not be looking for that outcome, they picked this week for this special occasion for a reason, one in which they will make sure is a success for the club.

Many times over the past years Tailem has not walked away with the points when these two have met, this time with the power of their club behind them they will again look for success and should come out with the win if for no other reason than they are the more settled team.

Ramblers v Jervois

Ramblers will take on Jervois this week at their home courts for the first of two times this season.

Coach of Ramblers, Mark Dougall, would have been very disappointed to go down last week to an unsettled Meningie.

He will look for, and expect more from his girls in this game before having another week off with the bye in round 12.

Ramblers are a very settled team and although they have come out stronger that some clubs expected this season, the points they have earned on the table are ones that Dougall would have expected.

Meningie, Mypolonga and Ramblers all sit equal second on the table with 12 points; Ramblers by virtue of percentage currently sit fourth.

Dougall is experienced enough as an A grade coach to know that where his team currently sits is no indication of where they will finish at the end of the season.

He also knows if he wants a better position, then this week against Jervois is a game he must win.

Jervois coach Leanne Baldock, herself new to coaching at this level, is working hard with her players to achieve all they can and they are better than some clubs have expected them to be.

However all in the Red and Black know that players within the Jervois A grade team are just as passionate about their team, their club and results as everyone else.

Ramblers’ goal circle was a dominant area of the game last time these two teams played, Baldock and her players learned a lot from that encounter and will come out this week with a determined attitude to do better than having their score doubled by the Red and Whites.

This game could be an interesting one for spectators - for although it is equal second versus seventh on the table, these placings mean very little to Jervois as they will fight for success.

Whether they are ready for that win against Ramblers only time will tell, but the Rooster girls will be just as determined for a win this week.