Junior Netball Development Academy Program extends its reach

By Tyler Maher

AFL Goulburn Murray's Junior Netball Development Academy Program will increase its reach next year.

After under-12 and under-13 age groups took part in the inaugural year of the program this season, and under-14 section has been added.

As well as continuing the progression of the under-13 athletes involved in the academy, the older age group will have more of a specialised court-structured development focus to help prepare players for Netball Victoria Talent Pathways programs.

“Given the overwhelming positive feedback not only received from both parents and players but also our coaching panel about the 2019 program, it was only natural to add another age group for 2020,” AFL GM netball administrator Peita Sleeth said.

“Not only did our players continue to go from strength to strength, but our coaches also developed their skills with our under-12 assistant coach Zoe Backway appointed under-17 Goulburn Region State Titles assistant coach.

“Following the success of the first year, we are excited to announce renowned coach Ann Austin has re-committed as head coach for 2020.

“Ann’s structure of the program, and also her knowledge of the game is invaluable, and we are pleased to have her on board again as an integral part of our coaching panel.”

Player nominations for all three age groups are open and can be found at, with trials beginning on November 7.

Austin is excited ahead of the new academy season.

“It was fantastic to see the growth of all the players from the start to end of the 2019 sessions and see them put into place at club level what they have learnt,” Austin said.

“The addition of the under-14 age group allows those players who are lucky enough to participate the opportunity to put into play what they have learnt, with a more tailored program to prepare these players to continue through the talent pathways.

“This now means we will have a structured development pathway for talented young players in the region to complement their club training from under-12 through to under-14.

“We also announce the re-commitment of experienced age group head coaches Emma Clignett and Ash Bradley returning following a successful 2019 and returning skills coach Jacqui Hudgson.

“Having these coaches on board again not only provides a stability to the program, but also showcases the talented coaches we have in our region.”

The trials will be at the Shepparton Netball Association courts at McEwen Reserve, with the organisation joining as a partner of the academy next year, emphasising its commitment to regional netball development.