Australia’s best emerging young talent will on display in Adelaide this week at the 21/U National Netball Championships with two big goals in mind.
The first is to help their respective state claim the coveted title but the other is to impress selectors enough to earn selection in this year’s 21/U national squad.
New Australian 21/U coach Tania Obst and selector Nicole Richardson will be courtside at every match as they look to piece together their squad, with input from Australian Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander and her assistant Michelle den Dekker.
The 21/U squad will gather in Canberra during the year a training camp and a tour of New Zealand is proposed later in the year – possibly to coincide with the Australian Diamonds Test series against the Silver Ferns.
“Anytime with get our 21/U squad touching that level is only going to benefit those athletes,” Obst said.
“They get to see how the Diamonds go about the day-to-day pressures of international competition plus they get that travelling experience.”
Obst said she’s expecting the standard of play throughout the 21/U nationals to be at a very high quality.
“It’s still going to be a competitive national event, even though some girls are not participating through injury or their ANZ Championship commitments,” Obst said.
“Our 21/U squad last year that won a silver medal at the World Youth Netball Championships was particularly strong and a number of those girls are still eligible for the 21/U program this year. So I’ll be looking for them to feature prominently over the week.
“Likewise, I hope that the girls who missed out on last year’s team and are also still eligible are looking to put out good performances and put themselves into the mix for selection again.”
Obst has given a hint as to what the selectors will be looking for over the week.
“Consistently performing day in, day out, backing up performances is important,” she said.
“Consistent shooting, execution of basic skills and an ability to play the Australian-way is something we want to see out on court.
“The load is not as busy as the 17/U and 19/U titles, but with that we’re expecting more consistent and quality netball over the week.”
Obst, who guided South Australia to last year’s 21/U title in Perth, said the tournament is an important event in Netball Australia’s High Performance pathway system.
“These girls are looking for national selection or future ANZ Championship careers,” Obst said.
“It was pleasing to see last year’s 21/U MVP winner Kate Shimmin put out a stellar game for the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the opening round of the ANZ Championship season so Kate has certainly shown these girls that in 12 months time, that’s where you can be with your netball.”