With preparations underway for the 2024 NFNL Netball Representative Program, head coach Brooke George is excited to continue her role in developing the next generation of talented NFNL netballers.
The program resumed in 2023, with George, a premiership coach at Diamond Creek, selected to again oversee the squads ahead of the 2024 Netball Victoria Association Championships.
Last year’s championships saw 15/U, 17/U and open sides representing the NFNL against some of the other top netball associations in the state.
Reflecting on her initial season as head coach, George was proud of the strides that were made in the program throughout 2023.
“We had a really great first year of our program last year, so we’re looking to build on that. We had a heap of success but there’s always room to improve,” she said.
All three sides had encouraging results in last year’s championships. In particular the 15/U side who not only picked up wins in two of their six matches, but in the following month after the tournament, every member of the squad was identified by Netball Victoria to trial for the 2024 Talent Academy and State Team Programs.
Making their way onto the 2024 Talent Academy list as a result was Heat’s Abbey Luttick, months after claiming the NFNL 15/U representative MVP award.
While getting players exposed to a high-quality competition was a great achievement, George labelled the opportunities for junior players to be recognised by Netball Victoria as her highlight of the year.
“You get to put yourself up against other really fantastic athletes and I think that’s a great part of the competition… because we get to play against some really talented players and see our work beforehand all come together,’ she said.
“Probably the biggest highlight from that was the fact that we had so many of our players, particularly our 15 and under group, Talent ID’d by Netball Victoria, so that was a big thrill.”
Although the development on the court was illustrated throughout the Association Championships, it was the preparation that was done off the court prior to the tournament, that was also a critical component of the representative program in 2023.
Players were delivered multiple sessions from different welfare groups as part of the program, which George hopes will have a long-lasting impact on players.
“Not only were we preparing our girls on the court, but also mentally off the court,” she said.
“We had some fantastic people come in, we had physios come in and talk to the players, we did some wellbeing with them by having the Pat Cronin Foundation come in,” she said.
“We did some fitness testing in the lead up, which gave them little areas that they can continue to develop. That will all help the players in the long run.”
On top of its 15/U, 17/U and open sides, the NFNL will also introduce a 13/U side that will compete in the Association Championships, as well as an 11/U Development Academy in 2024.
With a rapidly expanding NFNL junior netball competition, George highlighted the importance adding the two age groups would have on the development of both the representative program and junior netball in the league.
“We wanted to see how the first year of the program went and because it was such a success and the feedback from both players and parents involved was really good, we thought we would introduce that next level because we are growing the junior competition quickly,” she said.
“They don’t even run an 11 and under’s tournament in the Association Championships, but starting to get them involved in the program now and then starting to develop those skills are going to be necessary for them to move through the representative program.”
With focus turning towards selecting the final squads to compete in the upcoming championships, George is hoping that some promising results last year can translate to more success across all four sides in 2024.
“We would like to see a team build and develop to get success on the court. There’s a lot of the players that were part of the program in 2023 that look like they’re signing on, so hopefully we get to see that progression through them,” she said.
“We’re looking to improve our results on the court, as well as the program as a whole in 2024.”
Trials for players to join the 2024 NFNL Netball Representative Program will take place throughout February.
For those interested in taking part, please click here.