2015 State Team appointments confirmed

Netball NSW is pleased to confirm the coaches and managers who will guide the NSW State Teams at the 2015 National Netball Championships.

Megan Simpson (21/U), Briony Akle (19/U) and Moira Gaha (17/U) will return to their Head Coach roles for the second year of their agreements, along with 17/U Assistant Coach Amber Cross who will again team up with Gaha after they helped steer NSW to finish Runners-Up at this year’s tournament.

Two familiar faces will join the State Team coaching staff next season, with Lenore Blades and 2014 NSW Swift Sonia Mkoloma being appointed to Assistant Coaching roles with the 21/U and 19/U State Teams .

Blades is no stranger to representative netball having both played and coached at Nationals level.  The former player has been involved with eight NSW underage campaigns, including the 2012 NSW 17/U and 2011 NSW 19/U Championship winning sides; the latter with Megan Simpson who she reunites with for next year’s 21/U State Team.

After being awarded her Advanced Accreditation earlier this year, Mkoloma has been appointed to her first State Team role as Assistant Coach of the NSW 19/U Team.  The 35-year-old defender brings a wealth of experience to the side, with 95 ANZ Championship games and 111 international appearances for England to her name.

Narelle Stokes and Deborah Kassing return to their Team Manager roles for next season for the 21/U and 19/U sides, respectively, while Maureen Stephenson will bring her experience to the NSW 17/U side after most recently acting as Team Manager for the 2014 Netball NSW Waratahs.

When making the announcement, Netball NSW Chief Executive Officer Carolyn Campbell paid tribute to the great blend of playing and coaching experience amongst the appointments.

“We are delighted to welcome back a number of familiar faces to our 2015 State Teams, who will help guide our NSW representatives at next year’s National Netball Championships,” Campbell said.

“Between them, our 2015 Coaches and Managers have a vast wealth of experience; whether it be coaching, umpiring, managing or playing at an elite level, and understand what it means to represent the Waratah with pride.

“It’s great to see former NSW Swift Sonia Mkoloma given the opportunity to pass on her vast knowledge and wisdom to some of our young netballers.

“Sonia has shown a keen interest in coaching, which is evident in her achieving her Advanced Accreditation earlier this year.  She has also been working with the Netball NSW Sport Development department over the past year to deliver coaching clinics and workshops throughout our grassroots community.

“While we want to ensure that our State Teams continue to develop emerging athletes into future NSW Swifts and Australian Diamonds, we are excited by the talent in our High Performance program for 2015 and what’s in store for Netball NSW next year,” Campbell said.

After the success of the program this year, the NSW 17/U Development Squad will again be in place for 2015 with Leonie Stewart-Weeks returning as Head Coach.

Stewart-Weeks will again be joined by Advanced coaches Pate Cooper and Jaqua Heddle as Assistant Coaches, while Nikki Wellsford joins the team as Manager.

Introduced for 2014, the 17/U Development Squad underwent an identical training schedule as their 17/U counterparts, which culminated in a two game series at the Anne Clark Centre against one of the top secondary school teams in New Zealand, St Margaret’s High School, in April this year.

“We saw great results from the introduction of the 17/U Development Squad and proud that it will return next season.  We have a large group of talented young athletes in this State and while it’s not possible to select everyone in our State Teams, it’s important we continue to provide development opportunities for these athletes,” Campbell said.

“By introducing the Development Squad, these athletes are able to continue their growth both on and off court, providing them with an opportunity to challenge and compete for places in the Netball NSW High Performance program in future years.”

Netball NSW would like to congratulate our 2015 State Team coaches and staff.

2015 State Team trials will commence later this month, with NSW 17/U First Phase Trials being held on Sunday 21 and Monday 22 September.  NSW 21/U Squad trials will also be held in September on Wednesday 24th, before NSW 19/U First Phase trials are held on Sunday 12 October.

The 2015 21/U National Netball Championships will be contested from Tuesday 10 to Sunday 15 March, at Caloundra Indoor Stadium on the Sunshine Coast, QLD.  The 2015 17/U and 19/U National Netball Championships will be hosted at Netball NSW’s new headquarters in Sydney Olympic Park, Netball Central, from Tuesday 14 to Sunday 19 April.

2015 NSW State Teams – Staff Appointments
NSW 21/U TEAM
Head Coach: Megan Simpson
Assistant Coach: Lenore Blades
Manager: Narelle Stokes

NSW 19/U TEAM
Head Coach: Briony Akle
Assistant Coach: Sonia Mkoloma
Manager: Deb Kassing

NSW 17/U TEAM
Head Coach: Moira Gaha
Assistant Coach: Amber Cross
Manager: Maureen Stephenson

NSW 17/U DEVELOPMENT SQUAD
Head Coach: Leonie Stewart-Weeks
Assistant Coaches: Pate Cooper & Jaqua Heddle
Manager: Nikki Welsford