Goodna's Sapphires set to shine in state series
WITH a name like the Sapphires, the recently-formed Goodna representative netball team is keen to shine in this year's revamped Queensland Premier League competition.
However, the group of players lining up for the Goodna Netball Association is far from a new combination re-entering the annual state series.
Led by captain Robyn Walsh, the Goodna players have been regular teammates or opponents before. They play indoor netball on Tuesday nights and Saturday in the Brisbane competition.
Senior player Walsh said her teammates all had Queensland or Australian indoor experience.
"Us girls all played together in this competition about two or three years ago for a different association,'' Walsh said.
"We all play indoor together but really love playing outdoor netball as well.''
That's why national indoor representative Walsh said the group welcomed an opportunity to help revitalise Goodna's representative netball.
"Goodna (netball officials) are so excited because they haven't had a team in this competition for quite a few years,'' Walsh said.
"So we're quite honoured to be able to represent the association and be role models for netball in the region.
"The Goodna region is really behind it, and it's good for us to have a specific influence in the community.''
Camira-based Walsh gained her 100th cap for Australia in last year's Indoor Netball World Cup in New Zealand.
She said the Goodna team was thrilled about making the transition to the Thursday night competition at the State Netball Centre.
"The adjustment is fairly easy,'' she said.
"Indoor is a lot quicker than outdoor, obviously having the net.''
She said it would be "second nature'' for her team playing in the new competition.
One of the highlights of having Goodna in the premier league will be a looming local derby against the long-established Ipswich Flyers.
While the draw is yet to be finalised, Walsh expects the teams to meet at least once in what looks like being a 16-team SEQ Cup competition this year.
The Ipswich Flyers are also busy finalising preparations for the new competition, having been regular grand finalists and winners in past seasons.
Association teams in the competition with Ipswich and Goodna are expected to be Caloundra, Coolum, Sunshine Coast, Caboolture, SEMMNA, Western Districts, Redcliffe, Pine Rivers, Brisbane, Downey Park, QLD Catholic, Metro, Redlands, MacGregor and Shailer Park.
The Goodna team is being coached by David Eustace, who has strong ties to indoor netball at Darra.
"A lot of girls play for Brisbane and a lot of us play there, and he's coached Queensland teams and Australian teams for indoor,'' Walsh said.
"He also plays indoor and outdoor netball.
"He's been around for a long time . . . very knowledgeable on the court and really an approachable person, someone you want to be coached under.''
The Sapphires had their launch last Sunday, welcoming the players who will don the Goodna colours this season.
Walsh said the Sapphires were also keen to play in an Ipswich representative carnival featuring more than 90 teams from around South East Queensland on May 21.
As for the name Sapphires, that ties in with the Goodna Netball Association's community goals.
"The launching of the Goodna Sapphires symbolises a key step in our growth and development,'' association secretary Lauren Lavea said.
The team has sponsorship backing from Telstra at Redbank.
Goodna Sapphires team: Robyn Walsh (captain), Angela Ray, Renae Kalalo, Rebecca Asquith, Nicole Theron, Beth Hay, Sarah Cullen-Reid, Chrissy Peever, Aviva Collins, Samah Collins. Coach: David Eustace.