Mandy creates community connections in NSW

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There hadn’t been any junior netball played in the town of Canowindra, almost five hours from Sydney, until Mandy Townsend stepped in.

If children wanted to play, they travelled 30 minutes to the larger towns of Cowra or almost an hour to Orange where they didn’t know any of the other children playing. The trip there and back was almost as much effort as the drills themselves.

Mandy, a mother of three, had her two sons playing rugby and training on a Friday night while her daughter would sit and watch. From seeing her daughter and other sisters of the rugby team having to entertain themselves, Mandy investigated starting up a NetSetGO program for the girls of Canowindra. Mandy and her crew of mums including Rachael, Rebecca and Meghan, all completed their NetSetGO coaching accreditation online to help the girls of Canowindra develop their netball and social skills.

It was a joint community effort to get the girls ready for NetSetGO, with dads helped by marking out the courts on the grass, the senior Rugby Union team providing four goal posts and another lady in town donated four netballs.

Today, with the help of the Canowindra community, the Pytho Nettie Club is 40 girls strong.

It’s not just the practical skills through the NetSetGO program that Mandy is proud of, “The social aspect of it after training has been wonderful for the community as a whole”. The girls, rugby boys and their families hold a dinner, feeding about 100 people after training each week, bringing the town of Canowindra together as a sporting community. “It’s not a big night out but it’s a chance to get together and have a chat about what’s been going on during the week.”

Following such a successful initiation, Mandy is excited to have her NetSetGO program continue with the younger girls whose sisters were playing keen to get going. Mandy is hoping to use the prize money of the Australia Post One Netball Community Award to buy new posts and training equipment. As an Individual Winner of the Award, Mandy receives a Load & Go card valued at $1000 for the club and $500 for individual use, as well as a signed netball from the Australian Netball Diamonds.

“It was honestly so surprising (being named a Community Award winner) because it really just started as a couple of us mums saying let’s do netball with the girls while we wait for the boys to finish footy. It’s so nice to think that a little rural town can get national recognition for just doing something that we would’ve normally done anyway. I am so certain that there are towns doing exactly the same thing so it’s very humbling that we were nominated and to win the award was lovely.”

Congratulations to Mandy on winning an Australia Post One Netball Community Award.

To find out how your club or association can get involved with the One Netball program, visit onenetball.org.au