Check out our department of youth at national titles

2014 21/U National Championships Grand FinalSA v VicWith the next World Youth Cup just two years away, it’s timely to focus on the importance of the 21/U age group in Netball Australia’s athlete pathway program all the way to Australian Diamonds representation.

The step up the ladder to Australian 21/U teams and squads is extremely important in the development of our younger athletes for performance at the international level.

National 21/U level athletes, coaches and support staff need to be provided with opportunities to experience the pressure cooker of competition against other countries, adapting to different styles of play and living in each other’s pockets whilst touring.

Not to mention the challenge of continuing to develop individually as a high performance athlete.

It’s the reason why the job of the selection of this year’s national squad at next week’s 21/U National Netball Championships on the Sunshine Coast is so important.

The Australian 21/U team will have opportunities later in the year to experience the Netball World Cup 2015 SYDNEY as training partners against various competing countries.

2014 21/U National Championships WA v ACTThis includes practice matches against the Australian Diamonds and the New Zealand Silver Ferns.

Part of the Diamonds’ preparation for the Constellation Cup last year was match play against the 21/U team at Invercargill, which provided excellent and specific practice. The youngsters are always keen to show their best and gave the Diamonds a really good hit out.

It was a very interesting start to the ANZ Championship season with at least two upsets and teams managing to win away from home against the normal trend.

I got to observe the Melbourne Vixens as part of my national coach visits and they did not disappoint with a solid, sustained victory over the Central Pulse in their first ever match at Margaret Court Arena. What a stunning venue for netball that is.

This week I’m in Perth, visiting a West Coast Fever training session and watching them take on the Northern Mystics on Sunday afternoon. It was exciting to see Fever record such a compelling first up win away from home against such high quality opposition as the Queensland Firebirds last Sunday.

Stacey Rosman was cool and calm under pressure in her debut match as an ANZ Championship coach, but she knows her team must now back up from that great win on their home court. The fact that the new Challenge Trophy is up for grabs this only adds to the contest.

Congratulations are also due to Stacey for achieving her High Performance Coaching Accreditation, which I will be delighted to present that her.

Go Diamonds!