Hunter wraps nib Games

The 2015 nib Festival of Sport came to a close on Saturday 11 July following a week-long tournament featuring some of the best and brightest young athletes from across New South Wales.

Sydney Netball Academy (Division 1) and Central Coast Academy of Sport (Division 2) were crowned 2015 Champions of the Greater Netball Tournament – which was contested from Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 July – whilst Lucinda Dryden (SNA) and Nikita Jackson (Hunter Academy of Sport) were awarded Most Valuable Players for Division 1 and Division 2, respectively.

But the tournament wasn’t just about the on-court action, with players, coaches and umpires alike provided valuable professional development and networking opportunities throughout the three days.

For the first time, Netball NSW brought a strong presence to the tournament with Hunter Regional Coordinator Monique Smith having a strong hand in the organisation of the competition.  Along with Monique’s organisation skills, Netball NSW invited experienced Coach and Umpire mentors – such as NSW Swifts Head Coach Rob Wright and Marion van Munster, as well as renowned umpires Kate Thornborough and Rachel Hughes – to provide real-time coaching to those involved.

“We ran a professional development evening on the first day for both coaches and umpires, so we could give them a little insight into the roles of the mentors and also answer any questions,” Netball NSW Volunteer Workforce Manager Dianne Brown said.

“The first 30 minutes was about meeting one and another, as so many had travelled from all corners of the State – we really encouraged the Academies to bring umpires from their regions to open them to development opportunities also.  Then the group broke into coaches and umpires, with each presented information relevant to their profession.

“It was a great way to kick off the tournament, but it also gave those regional umpires and coaches a little more information on who the mentors were and how they could utilise them. It also built a solid base for the remainder of the week,” Brown claimed.

This year’s nib Games was the first to be contested by a younger age group after the Academy of Sport age was lowered to 14-16 years old.  Whilst admitting to a little bit of the unknown prior to the competition starting, Brown said she was impressed by the level of skill shown by the players.

“It was the first time we’d seen such young athletes – some just 13 – so I was unsure what to expect. But what we saw was really encouraging,” Brown said.

“It was a talented playing group, who really showed some intensity and the competition was impressive.  But what really stuck with me was the commitment and skill-level shown by the athletes, it was really impressive.”

The hosts also held a dinner on the final evening in which all the players, coaches and umpires attended – and participated! Taking inspiration from the upcoming Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015, each Academy was allocated a NWC2015 country to perform a skit to the audience.

Brown said the evening was extremely popular and was an exercise new to the 2015 competition.

“We haven’t previously had a dinner with everyone together, so it was a really nice way for the Academies to get to know each other off the court,” Brown claimed.

“There were a lot of laughs and I’m sure many will join me in saying it was a highlight of the week.”

Congratulations to all the participants who attended the 2015 nib Festival of Sport; we hope to see you all again next year.

Regional Academies of Sport: 
Central Coast (Mingara)
Hunter (Newcastle)
Illawarra (Wollongong) 
North Coast (Lismore)
Northern Inland (Tamworth)
Southern (Wagga) –
South East Region (Queanbeyan) –
South West Sydney (Campbelltown)
Western Sydney (Penrith)
Western Region (Bathurst) 
Far West (Cobar) –
Sydney Netball Academy (Metropolitan Sydney) –