Thunderbirds promote Keppich-Birrell to panel

After two triumphant seasons with Victorian Fury in the Australian Netball League, Kristy Keppich-Birrell has taken the next step in her coaching career by joining the panel of the Adelaide Thunderbirds in 2016.

Keppich-Birrell, pictured above, has accepted the position as assistant to new Thunderbirds coach Michelle den Dekker while former Australian shooting great Jenny Borlase has also come on board in a specialist role.

Keppich-Birrell has led Fury to the title – undefeated in both seasons – in the past two ANL seasons and the qualified school teacher will take leave from her position as head coach at Melbourne’s Rowville Sports Academy to take on this new role.

She will relocate to Adelaide in January with husband Matt and daughters Milla, 8, and Katinka, 5, staying in Melbourne.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to take part in the re-building of a fantastic franchise, and a big step to move interstate,” Keppich-Birrell said.

“The chance to work with Michelle, and knowing how professional the entire organisation is, swayed my decision to join the Thunderbirds. As a pathway coach, it’s an opportunity to see how I work within an ANZ Championship franchise, and to be part of something pretty special.

“I have a very supportive husband and family and Michelle has been really supportive as well.”

1995-7Borlase, pictured right, played 70 Tests for Australia and was part of three Netball World Cup winning sides and a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal team in the 1990’s. She and den Dekker were teammates in Australia’s 1991 and 1995 triumphant Netball World Cup campaigns.

She is part of the panel who will be assisting next week at Netball Australia’s Centre of Excellence `Future Diamonds Focus’ camp in Canberra run by Australian coach Lisa Alexander.

Borlase is delighted to reunite with den Dekker in 2016 after the pair enjoyed a successful playing career together in their native South Australia and at international level.

“We’ve got a long history together, and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Borlase said.

“I admire Michelle greatly for her ability on court, and I’ve seen her develop as a coach and person during my work at the (Netball Australia) Centre of Excellence last year.”

MDD2Having taken over the Thunderbirds job from the competition’s longest-serving coach Jane Woodlands-Thompson, den Dekker said her new-look coaching panel offers expertise in all three areas of the court.

“We want to provide our players with every opportunity to be successful and I am confident that our new coaching staff includes the best personnel available to lead the Adelaide Thunderbirds into a new era of success in the ANZ Championship,” den Dekker said.

“Both coaches come from a strong winning culture and know what it takes to get the best out of their players, on and off the court.”