There is never a dull moment in netball and so this weekend marks the beginning of our critically important Australian Netball League (ANL) competition in its new format.
ANL will more fully sit alongside ANZ Championship for the first time in a strategic move to have more of our ANZ Championship bench athletes competing in their state based ANL team to ensure that match competition is a key component of their development as high performance athletes.
This change has been mooted for some time now and will be a boost for our National pathway as well as injecting additional talent into the ANL competition.
It sounds like a win and it is, but it does require a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes in logistics and organisation to support this system.
The other key strength and advantage is the clearer alignment between the ANZ program and the ANL program in those states that have an ANZ Championship team.
The coaching team of the ANZ Championship Head Coach and the ANL Head Coach must work closely together on all aspects of the program to ensure that the athletes movement between both teams is seamless.
This is never an easy task to align programs and still allow some autonomy and creativity, to particularly the ANL team.
However, the benefits of this alignment mean coaches are being professionally developed with more exposure to the ANZ environment and the requirements and rigours of this high performance space.
There will also be a lessening of the differences between the two competitions in terms of intensity and performance which will be of benefit to all athletes endeavouring to make the grade of an ANZ Championship athlete.
I can’t wait to see the first installment of the double header this weekend as I conduct my visit to the Melbourne Vixens this weekend as they take on the WBOP Magic on Sunday followed by the Victorian Fury who take on the Canberra Darters.
It will be a feast of netball this weekend with the match of the round clearly the 2015 Grand Final replay between the Queensland Firebirds and the NSW Swifts being held in Brisbane tomorrow at 5.00pm AEST.
My prediction, it will go right down to the wire! Maybe even a draw!
And for those of you wanting to see plenty of action crammed into a weekend of netball, look no further than the Fast 5 Netball World Series being held in Australia for the first time in Melbourne at Hisense Arena on the weekend of Saturday 29th October – Sunday 30th October.
What will be a fun filled weekend for netball fans to see the top 6 nations in the world competing in the Fast 5 format of the game, fan packages can be purchased from this Monday 2nd May from 9am.
Head to the Fast 5 website for all the information you will need www.fast5worldseries.com.au
Main photo: Grant Treeby