Victorian duo to lead Australian 21/U team

24/05/2015 ANZ Championship 2015 Round 13 Vixens v Swifts Photo: Grant Treeby

Article: Netball Australia

Victorian pair Liz Watson and Jo Weston have been chosen to lead the Australian 21/U team in its upcoming series of matches against the World Cup international teams of Australia, New Zealand and England.

Watson has been named captain and Weston vice-captain of the 21/U side that will face the Diamonds, Silver Ferns and England in Newcastle and Sydney in the first week of August as part of those countries’ preparations for the Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015.

The duo play with the Melbourne Vixens in the ANZ Championship and were part of their 2014 title-winning squad.

Watson, who was part of the 2014 Australian Diamonds squad, said she was thrilled when told the news of her selection as captain.

“It’s an honor and privilege to represent Australia at any level,” Watson said. “But to captain these amazing athletes is something I’m extremely proud of. Every single player in the team is not only an amazing netballer, but they are also all great people.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with most of the girls in underage programs at both state and national level so it’s going to make my job very easy.”

Watson boasts previous leadership experience as co-captain of the Victorian 17/U team in 2011 and was also co-captain of the Victorian Flames in its inaugural Australian Netball League season in 2013.

Weston was vice-captain of the Australian 21/U team that toured New Zealand last year and is excited to be chosen in the same role in 2015.

“I enjoyed working with Maddy (Proud) and the coaching staff last year so it’s another great opportunity to extend myself in that role and work on building those relationships off court,” Weston said.

“Liz and I have played together for Victorian teams since we were 14 so to be playing for Australia is pretty special.”

The duo say they’ve been fortunate to play under a great leader for the past couple of seasons at the Vixens in retired great Bianca Chatfield.

Watson has also undertaken some leadership courses at the Victorian Institute of Sport, learning from athletes in other sports.

“I’ve learnt so much from Bianca and she’s influenced my motivation to be a better leader and also a better person off the court in my life,” Watson said.

Weston described Chatfield as a “real inspiration” to her teammates.

“She embodies what sporting leadership looks like,” Weston said. “She’s got an amazing ability to build a team work ethic but also encourages those around her to become better in all aspects of their lives.”

The 21/U team members will gather in Sydney on Friday ahead of their first match against the New Zealand ‘A’ side on Saturday.

Watson said the opportunity to play against the Diamonds, Silver Ferns and England over the week was an “amazing opportunity” for every player in the team.

“It’s a great step up for all of us. Everyone is going to take a lot out of it,” she said. “It’s going to be about coming together as quickly as we can and making sure when we get out there we thrive off the excitement of this opportunity and put in our best performance.”

Australian 21/U coach Tania Obst said both Watson and Weston are highly respected by their peers.

“Liz has shown genuine leadership qualities on court with the Vixens and I have no doubt that she will bring those attributes to the national 21/U team,” Obst said.

“Both leaders will work closely with me to deliver the ‘team first’ philosophy within the national 21/U program. This is a fantastic opportunity for both athletes to take on these roles amongst their peers.”

The Australian 21U team: Gia Abernethy (South Australia), Kaitlyn Bryce (NSW/NSW Swifts), Mahalia Cassidy (Queensland/Queensland Firebirds), Sarah Klau (South Australia/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Cody Lange (South Australia/Adelaide Thunderbirds), Chelsea Lemke (South Australia), Kristina Manu’a (NSW/WBOP Magic), Kaylia Stanton (WA/West Coast Fever), Alice Teague-Neeld (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens), Chloe Watson (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens), Liz Watson (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens), Jo Weston (Victoria/Melbourne Vixens).