Coaches delighted at A-grade quality

IT’S an embarrassment of riches but Paula Cary isn’t complaining.

The Ovens and Murray under-17 netball co-coach alongside Louise Byrne will head to the Victorian Association Championships on Sunday week with most of her 10-girl squad already seen as regulars in senior teams at their clubs.

The rep team won through to the state decider after beating the Goulburn Valley League in the truncated regional clashes last weekend.

Cary said seven of the 10 who played at the weekend were regular A-graders.

“In the past there have been some but this is the biggest group of under-17s already playing A-grade,” she said.

“Of course Jane Cook and Jacqui Newton are well known, but Abbey Jones at Yarrawonga played in an O and M grand final last year and Sophie Hanrahan has been outstanding at Corowa this year, as has Sarah Hooper for Wangaratta.

“I’m at North (Albury) and we have always had a policy of promoting the juniors when they were ready and I think other clubs are now following suit — seeing their potential.

“From a coach’s point of view it’s fantastic.

“They have all been exposed to harder competition and so when they go away to these tournaments they are used to that extra added pressure.

“There certainly weren’t any passengers at the weekend.”

But Cary said her talented squad copped a reality check during the regional qualifiers.

“They had won most of their games pretty easily and expected that to simply be the story of the day,” she said.

“So when they didn’t turn up for the Murray league they ended on the wrong side of the result.

“They learned their lesson, you have to make it happen in these competitions, not just expect it will happen.”

Cary said the state title carried prestige and a chance to add to their rep netball resume.

“If they were to win the next tournament they would be seen as the best association team in Victoria,” she said.

“But talent scouts will no doubt be looking at these girls for the state under-17 and under-19 squads.

“Some are already on that pathway, but there are plenty of others who wouldn’t be out of their depth in a state squad.”