There will be a new club taking the court when the 2021-22 summer netball season commences on Friday, with Hazel Glen joining the NFNL netball ranks.
Hazel Glen becomes the league’s fifth netball-only affiliate and will start its journey in the NFNL when it takes on Epping 1 at La Trobe Sports Stadium in the opening round of grading.
The Doreen-based club was founded in 2018 as a junior club, playing its first season in the Diamond Creek Force Netball Association, and has quickly grown to include 16 junior teams.
Hazel Glen president Narelle Draper told NFNL.org.au the main reason behind joining the NFNL competition was to provide the club’s 17-20 year olds a pathway into senior netball.
“We’re looking at having this as a pathway to keep them at the club and continue to play and enjoy playing sport, being active and being with their friends,” Draper said.
Draper will serve as player-coach of Hazel Glen team in this year’s summer season, bringing 38 years of netball experience, including 28 years within the representative netball system.
She said she wanted to continue playing the game she loved and aid the developing players within the club.
“It’s been a long journey for me, but this is the natural progression,” she said.
“To continue to keep playing and not just become a sideline coach and not actually do what I love.”
Draper said Hazel Glen’s squad will be a mixture of youth and experience, with the rare combo of Draper, her sister and her daughter potentially all playing in the first game this Friday.
She said wing attack Madison Head and emerging goal attack Haylie Baker would be two players to keep an eye on.
“[Madison] is an up and coming midcourter. Very agile and very clever with her ball craft,” Draper said.
“[Haylie] is really young, but she’s really talented. We’re hoping to be able to teach her a couple of things and get her to extend a bit of what she does.”
And whilst the team is excited heading into their first clash on Friday night, Draper expects there will also be nerves heading into the inaugural match in the NFNL.
“That initial build-up of nerves will be there right up until we start actually, once the whistle blows we’ll be on our way and we’ll be fine,” she said.