Netball Australia’s new Netball Centre of Excellence is preparing to welcome its inaugural intake of athletes.
Starting Monday and for the next eight weeks, 11 of Australia’s emerging elite athletes will base themselves at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra under the watchful eyes of High Performance coaches, including Netball Centre of Excellence head coach and former Australian captain Michelle den Dekker.
The 11 athletes have been identified as potential future Australian Diamonds and den Dekker said the new Centre of Excellence program would provide them with the opportunity to fast track their development in preparation for international competition.
“It is imperative that our elite athletes build resilience to the pressures associated with international competition,” den Dekker said.
Along with the residential program, a series of five-day specialist camps will be held over the next month targeting defenders, mid-courters and shooters.
These specialist camps will see former Australian players Jane Searle (defence), Jenny Borlase (shooting), Jill McIntosh (midcourt C/WA) and Nicole Richardson (midcourt C/WD) provide specialist coaching alongside den Dekker.
“The specialist camps blend a balance of experienced players like Ash Brazill, Clare McMeniman and Karyn Bailey with the our next generation of elite young players. This blend will set the high performance expectation about what it takes to go to next level,” den Dekker said.
“We will have 30 additional athletes coming in and out of the Centre of Excellence over the next five weeks.
“The level of high performance coaching available to these athletes over the eight weeks is exciting and innovative in the way it tailors training to meet individual athlete’s needs.”
South Australian and Adelaide Thunderbirds mid-courter Madeline Proud is excited about the opportunity to be part of the Centre of Excellence.
“It’s very exciting. It’s a great opportunity to be exposed to a daily training environment and get coached by some greats of the game, especially Michelle den Dekker,” Proud said.
“Michelle is a legend of the game. She’s very enthusiastic and she has very unique coaching style so I’m really looking forward to learning from her.
“It’s a great group of girls that I’m there with as well as having the other athletes coming in for their specialist camps. I have no doubt that this experience will help all of us develop as netballers.”
Proud is no stranger to the experience of living at the AIS, having spent 2013 as a scholarship holder with the Australian 21/U squad preparing for the World Youth Championships.
Her 21/U teammates Courtney Bruce, Cody Lange, Kaylia Stanton and Gretel Tippett are also part of the inaugural Centre of Excellence intake.
“The majority of this group I’ve either been in national underage camps with or we were at AIS together so it will be an easy transition,” Proud said.
“It makes it easier having that strong relationship with those girls.”
The 2014 Netball Centre of Excellence Program will finish with an international tour of South Africa from Thursday 9 October – Monday 20 October.