Big night for GIANTS and Swifts at State Dinner

It was a stellar night for both GIANTS Netball and the NSW Swifts at the 2018 Netball NSW State Dinner with GIANTS attacker Jo Harten named the best player in the state, while former Swifts Megan Anderson and Mo’onia Gerrard were inducted into the organisation’s Hall of Fame.

The State Dinner, which this year took place at Rooty Hill RSL, celebrates the best players, coaches, officials and volunteers in the New South Wales netball community.

Harten picked up the Marilyn Melhuish OAM Medal, given to the best player from the combined rosters of Netball NSW’s two professional franchises; the NSW Swifts and GIANTS Netball.

It capped off a stellar 2018 for the England international which also saw her claim a Commonwealth Games gold medal in April, and the GAINTS’ MVP, Members’ Player of the Year and Players’ Player Awards in August.

Harten’s award was one of eight categories on the night which celebrated another fantastic year for netball across NSW.

“From celebrating the 50th hosting of our State and State Age Championships to GIANTS Netball Head Coach Julie Fitzgerald overseeing her 300th elite game – and Briony Akle her first at the helm of the NSW Swifts – it has been a year of memorable achievements,” Louise Sullivan, President of Netball NSW, said.

“There has never been a better time to be involved in netball. Our participation numbers at the grassroots level continue to flourish and memberships for both the NSW Swifts and GIANTS Netball saw big increases in 2018.

“Over 1 million people tuned in to watch this year’s Suncorp Super Netball Grand Final, highlighting just how engrained the sport has become in the Australian sporting psyche, and around NSW our local courts are jam-packed on weekends as young and old come together and serve their communities collectively and commercially.

“As we head towards our 90th year in 2019 we have never been in better health, however, it is vital that we keep evolving and learning to ensure we remain at the forefront of what is a very competitive sports market in NSW.”

It was also a big night for Swifts legends Anderson and Gerrard who both took their places in the Netball NSW Hall of Fame.

Starting her netball career as a junior in Woy Woy, Anderson was the first player to debut for the Australian Diamonds in the 21st Century when she did so on their tour of South Africa in 2000.

She represented NSW at underage levels before going on to win four Premierships with the Sydney Swifts in the Commonwealth Bank Trophy Era. After retiring from playing she was part of the coaching team which led the Swifts (then called the NSW Swifts) to back-to-back ANZ Championship Grand Finals, and continued in this role after the arrival of Suncorp Super Netball in 2017.

Gerrard, a three-time Premiership winner with the Sydney Swifts and two-time World Cup winner with the Australian Diamonds, also came through the NSW underage setup before shining at elite level.

Of Tongan descent, and never one to forget her roots, Gerrard has done amazing work in the community since retiring with the Australia Post ONE Netball Program, Netball NSW’s Oceania Cup and Mo’onia’s Cup in conjunction with Tonga Netball. In 2016 she received an Order of Australia Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to netball and the community.

And, after celebrating 50 years of competition, both the Netball NSW State & State Age Championships were inducted into the Netball NSW Hall of Fame under the Heritage Category. Introduced in 2016, the Heritage category pays tribute to artefacts and events which have significant historical value to the organisation.

“From humble beginnings, the State and State Age Championships have become iconic events on the NSW sporting calendar,” Sullivan added.

“These events attract players in their thousands, and supporters in tens of thousands, so not only do they bring people together in the healthy environment of sport, they also bring a significant economic boost to the areas that host them.

“And having reached our 50th year for both events in 2018, it is a fitting time to reflect on what has been achieved and look ahead to what we hope will be another half century of growth and prosperity.”

2018 Netball NSW Award Recipients

Anne Clark BEM Service Awards: Tracey Connolly (Campbelltown District Netball Association), Lyn Hahn (Camden & District Netball Association), Elizabeth Konza (Blue Mountains Netball Association), Maureen Nation (Young & District Netball Association), Catherine Walls (Grafton Netball Association)

Marilyn Melhuish OAM Medal – SSN Player of the Year: Jo Harten (GIANTS Netball)

Marj Groves AM Scholarship: Latika Tombs (Manly Warringah Netball Association)

Nance Kenny OAM Medal – Premier League Player of the Year: Amy Wild (Central Coast Heart)

Lynn Quinn OAM Bench Official Award: Margot Paterson (Northern Suburbs Netball Association)

Neita Matthews OAM Umpires Award: Jessica Clay (Ku-ring-gai Netball Association)

Margaret Corbett OAM Coaches Award: Amber Cross (Wyong District Netball Association)

Judy Dunbar Media Awards: Matthew Findlay, Central Western Daily (Community Media Excellence), Brittany Carter, ABC Grandstand (Best Feature), Richard Dobson, News Ltd (Best Photograph), Sydney Morning Herald (Best Overall Media Coverage).

2018 Hall of Fame Inductions: Megan Anderson, Mo’onia Gerrard OAM

Heritage Hall of Fame Inductions: Netball NSW State Championships, Netball NSW State Age Championships