'Sea of green' cheers Ipswich to incredible SEQ Cup glory
PROFESSIONAL standards, a spirited side and terrific community support.
Ipswich's latest Queensland Premier League SEQ Cup netball champions were rewarded after applying all the right qualities this season.
The Ipswich Flyers sealed victory 58-55 over two-time defending titleholders Goodna Sapphires after another mighty duel at the Queensland State Netball Centre.
Although the Flyers had won grand finals in previous competitions, Friday night's success amid a "sea of green'' was one of their best.
Ipswich Netball Association president Gail Lyne praised new coach Nicole Grant for building on the Flyers' trademark community spirit and guiding the team to an exceptional achievement.
"She's played at a high level and is putting a lot of work into all her coaching accreditations,'' Lyne said, thrilled with Friday night's win.
"That's really paid off.
"We did really have a lot of faith in them and she developed a really good cohesive unit.''
Lyne said the Flyers had always possessed fine team spirit which came from their strong Ipswich community focus.
"We were on the main court and it was like a sea of green out there,'' she said, appreciating the large contingent who travelled to watch the final.
Lyne said the Flyers and community also benefited from working with the new Jets franchise, playing in the higher level inaugural Sapphire Series team this year.
"We have been putting a lot of work into our rep program,'' she said.
"The Jets are also really getting involved with the community and their pool for players is from our Flyers.''
The Flyers and Jets have been actively running clinics and helping juniors in addition to developing their senior talent.
Former Brisbane West Lions player Grant was delighted her team was able to finish the SEQ Cup season on such a high.
"It's exactly what they deserved,'' she said, having taken over the Flyers' coaching role this year.
"They have trained so incredibly hard.''
Grant said a number of specialist sessions with the Jets Sapphire Series team and her former coach, along with games against the men, had helped the Flyers prepare for the big games.
"Everything that we've learnt from those training sessions and experiences, they just kept trying to work on what we needed to do to keep improving,'' she said.
Looking at videos from previous games against Goodna highlighted the Flyers' level of increased professionalism.
"They just kept taking it all on board and kept trying to improve as a team and individuals and it just paid off,'' she said.
"They are such good sports as well. They are an incredible team and I'm so lucky to be able to coach them.
"Everybody in the squad got to play the grand final, which makes me so happy.''
As for returning next year as coach, Grant was planning some time to contemplate, along with some senior players.
"I definitely feel like I need a little bit of a break,'' she said. "But I'm not saying no (at this stage).''
While delighted to celebrate over the weekend with her victorious side, Grant said it was also pleasing to see Ipswich represented by two quality sides in the grand final.
"We played teams from all over South East Queensland so to have the two teams from the Ipswich region in the grand final is pretty exciting for Ipswich,'' she said.
The Flyers and Sapphires have qualified for the state finals to be played at the Queensland State Netball Centre in October.
SEQ Cup grand final: Ipswich Flyers def Goodna Sapphires 58-55.
The 2019 championship-winning Flyers squad: Tara Bramwell (co-captain), Melissa Beutel (co-captain), Emilie McInally (co-captain), Chloe Roberts, Meg Bowmaker, Selena Hirsch, Charisma Tuupo, Tahlia Vandenberg, Kirsty Brennan, Bridget Cumming, Skye Sippel, Abbey Gallagher. Coach: Nicole Grant. Assistant coach: Vada Hoger. Manager: Mel de Kleyn.