African adventure for Centre of Excellence graduates

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A group of Australia’s emerging elite athletes is preparing to head off on a two-week tour of South Africa to wrap up the inaugural program at Netball Australia’s Centre of Excellence.

The team features 10 athletes who were part of the first Centre of Excellence residential program intake while the additional four members – Amy Steel, Verity Simmons, Kate Shimmin and Chloe Watson – were selected from the specialist camps, held recently at the Netball Centre of Excellence, AIS Campus.

The touring party leaves Perth for Johannesburg on Thursday 9 October and will spend two days there before heading to Potchefstroom to prepare for the first match against a South African Invitational team on 12 October.

Centre of Excellence coach Michelle den Dekker will lead the touring party and said it’s an opportunity for the athletes to experience playing netball in a different country and adapt to another international style of play.

“Netball is played in vastly different ways around the globe. The game we watch and play in Australia is quite often very different to what we experience at the Commonwealth Games and the Netball World Cup,” den Dekker said.

“Countries have diverse conditions, the players are subject to coaching and umpiring that has its own interpretation of the game. These changes make our game exciting, innovative and ever-changing.

“To retain our No.1 status in the world we are constantly looking to provide our future elite players with opportunities to play internationally in environments that challenge them. We are looking for athletes that can adapt and perform under any conditions.”

Targeted assistant coach Stacey Rosman, the new coach of ANZ Championship team West Coast Fever, will also travel with the team having worked with den Dekker at the Centre of Excellence.

_MCA5616LiThe five-game series will feature two FAST5 matches between the Centre of Excellence and the Proteas FAST5 team, which den Dekker said would be a great opportunity to showcase this unique format to a South African audience ahead of next month’s FAST5 Netball World Series in New Zealand.

All matches are being played at the Kopanelo Sport Hall in Potchefstroom.

A highlight of the tour will see the athletes taking part in a coaching clinic at the Potchefstroom University on Thursday 16 October as part of a UNICEF schools project.

“Being involved at the grassroots level of the local community through UNICEF will be a highlight for us,” den Dekker said.

“To see the joy and friendships that are developed through our involvement at these clinics is a privilege and extremely important to the future development and profile of netball in South Africa.”

The touring party is: Ashleigh Brazill (NSW/West Coast Fever), Courtney Bruce (WA/West Coast Fever), Beryl Friday (QLD/Queensland Firebirds), Hulita Haukinima (QLD), Sarah Klau (SA), Cody Lange (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Madeleine Proud (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Kate Shimmin (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Verity Simmons (NSW/Queensland Firebirds), Kaylia Stanton (WA/West Coast Fever), Amy Steel (VIC/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Numi Tupaea (WA, pictured), Georgie Virgo (SA/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Chloe Watson (VIC/Melbourne Vixens).