Netball features in Australia’s premier sporting awards features prominently in the finalists of the inaugural AIS Sports Performance Awards (ASPA) announced today.

The Australian Diamonds’ all-conquering 2014 campaign has seen them nominated alongside the Australian Men’s Hockey team – the Kookaburras – and the Australian Para Rugby team – the Steelers – for the Team of the Year.

Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander, who guided the team to the Commonwealth Games Gold Medal and unbeaten through 13 Tests in 2014, is a finalist in the Coach of the Year Award alongside Myriam Fox (Canoeing) and Cord Spero (Aerial Skiing).

Kate01LiNetball Australia CEO Kate Palmer, pictured right, has also been recognised, among three nominees for the Leader of the Year category.

The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony in Melbourne on February 11.

The ASPAs recognise Australia’s leading athletes, teams and coaches, and celebrate their outstanding achievements in high performance sport.

AIS Director Matt Favier said the awards reflected the new and expanded role the AIS plays in high performance sport.

“The old AIS Awards have been won by some great athletes but the timing is right to expand the pool of talent eligible to win some of the country’s most prestigious sports awards,” he said.

“The new ASPAs capture the flavour of what the AIS is now all about and the awards align with Australia’s Winning Edge plan which involves supporting more sports than ever before.

“We asked national sporting organisations (NSOs) to nominate athletes, coaches and leaders as well as community clubs and volunteers to ensure we are recognising all levels in Australian sport.

AIS_Gold_Stacked“It is very important that we publicly acknowledge the hard work and achievements of   people involved in Australian performance sport.

“There are a further two categories –  Sport Performance of the Year and Sport Personality of the Year – which are people’s choice awards and I hope as many Australians as possible cast their votes in these two categories when the finalists are announced and voting opens in early January.”

To cast your vote for Sports Performance and Sport Personality of the Year, go to the home page from 2 January. The Diamonds are nominated for Sports Performance of the Year.

The Olinda Ferny Creek Football/Netball Club – which linked in with Vanuatu Netball to volunteer in schools and communities and donate equipment – has been nominated in the Community Club of the Year category.

You can follow the ASPA awards on Twitter @Ausport or via the Facebook page.