After becoming the first ever premiers of Netball Victoria’s Association Championships 15/U Mixed Division, Doncaster and District Netball Association see their success as a stepping stone for junior mixed and men’s netball.
With the rise of male participation in netball, a new 15/U Mixed competition was added to the Association Championships line-up for 2019 as teams headed to Frankston & District Netball Association.
Achieving a clean sweep across the day to become the inaugural premiers of the competition was Doncaster and District Netball Association (DDNA).
“It’s not often that they have mixed association competitions at such a high level for younger athletes,” DDNA’s head coach Craig Moore said.
Craig has been involved with DDNA for over six years as a coach, administrator and mentor to young netballers. On top of this, his involvement with Victorian Men’s and Mixed Netball Association (VMMNA) has been instrumental over his 19-year involvement as a player, umpire, manager, coach and now Vice President.
“Anytime that Doncaster has the opportunity to build a team we are always interested, whether it be girls, boys or mixed.”
As soon as the opportunity for a junior league mixed competition at the Association Championship was announced, he said he and his association had to jump on such an exciting opportunity.
“We spoke to some of our representative girls in the 15/U age group and some boys of the 17/U competition. To say the least, the girls were keen to play with some of the boys and try a different type of netball.
“Boys and girls play a different brand of netball. The boys might not be as experienced as the girls but they have a clear sense of athleticism which is all you need.”
Craig and another coach from his association took on the challenge of bringing their new mixed team together, as they only met on game day.
“Pauline and I, gave them a challenge at the start of the day to basically learn each other’s names and get to know their new team as people.”
After winning their first six rounds by sizable margins, DDNA found themselves in the Grand Final where they played a striking match against Waverley District to win by 14-goals and see their first premiership.
“As the matches went on over the day, we asked them and wanted them to understand what combinations they thought were working well, passes that were being executed the best and things of that nature.
“It honestly just progressed with the day and they got better and better. The way they were playing looked like they had been playing for years.”
Craig feels his role is not just about bringing netball players together but bringing everyday people together through inclusiveness and team spirits.
“It really is all about inclusiveness currently with boys and girls and their participating.
“With boys particularly, when they complete at a 13/U participation competition they are looking for that next step of where they can play. To be able to have that at the Association Championships and for Netball Victoria to offer that is brilliant!”
A couple weeks on from their victory and Craig said the response to the young mixed competition has been immensely supportive.
“I’ve had messages sent to me after Doncaster’s success with people saying, ‘I didn’t even know this existed’ and already they are wanting to push for this happen each year.
“I know that the boys are just so eager to play, whether it’s mixed or men. There’s so many people wanting more and more so it really is about having opportunities like this to set up further pathways.”
“Having the junior M-League is a great start for the 17/U competition, however being able to bring it even further down to 15/U and show these opportunities for the young boys coming up is even better.
“We’ve got 13-year old’s playing with 17-year old’s so if they see this 15/U competition going on, then it means they won’t have to wait a couple of years before playing and we will have even more boys loving this wonderful sport.”
While Association Championships is a start, Craig has a clear vision on the way men’s and mixed netball can expand.
“The major focus needs to be around the juniors. I think if we can really expand on those age groups over the next one to three years then it will create leaps and bounds.
“They are the future of men’s and mixed netball regardless of what level, whether it be social or leagues or association champs or even state. We want to promote different competitions in this niche that bring teams together.”
For any young boys looking to get involved in the community of mixed or men’s netball, Craig shares this advice from personal experiences.
“I started playing netball when I was 10 and I’m now 42 and still involved. I think it’s a sport that has a come a long way in a short amount of time and is something that is so fun.
“Playing, coaching, managing, umpiring. There’re so many opportunities for it. You can end up playing across the state or internationally and really who wouldn’t want that?”
To get involved and find more information on mixed and men’s netball with VMMNA click here.
Doncaster and District’s competitions and opportunities can also be found here.
Written by Amellia Wood