2019 Netball Victoria Community Award Winners Announced

Local champions of the Victorian netball community received their due recognition today, with the winners of the 2019 Netball Victoria Community Awards being announced.

Winners from the eight categories will receive a prize package worth up to $500, whilst the WorkSafe Safety Initiative Award winners receive $2,000 each to update facilities at their netball club.

Netball Victoria’s General Manager – Government Relations & Affiliate Services, Amanda Basu, congratulated all nominees, and thanked them for their commitment to driving the continual growth and development of the sport right across the state of Victoria.

“Each year, we are so impressed with the calibre of applications for the Netball Victoria Community Awards, and this year was no different,” Basu said.

“We’re extremely proud to have people in the netball community championing the values of Netball Victoria to ensure the sport remains a safe and enjoyable environment for all involved.

“We thank everyone for their nominations to help recognise those who are going above and beyond in their netball community, and a massive thank you to those nominated for their hard work and dedication to netball.”


Volunteer of the Year – Pauline Zealley (Banyule & District Netball Association)
Pauline has been instrumental in inspiring and delivering success to her local netball community for more than 25 years. Originating at Rosanna Netball Club, Pauline coached, inspired and created leadership opportunities through pathways for the women and girls in her care.

Pauline then joined Banyule & District Netball Association and Board over five years ago. She was inspired to take part in a complete restructure and reprogramming of an association that was in dire need of re-invigoration. Starting from scratch, Pauline led an assault on the fundamental framework of the association, rebuilding from a governance and finance level, through to the association’s core business. This strong netball association needed the assistance with their strategic planning in order to build a foundation that would drive years of future success.

Association of the Year – Frankston District Netball Association
Frankston District Netball Association has continued to take definite steps toward improving their governance in 2019.  They have improved and expanded the range of ways in which people can get involved in netball both on and off the court and continue to focus on providing a safe and healthy environment for all community members.

They welcome input from members of all ages, which has culminated in the establishment of a Junior Committee, aimed to empower junior leaders to have direct access and to Board of Management, as well as input into decision making at both a strategic and operational level. They recognise the need to increase the junior member voice and empower their young people to be active in advocacy of a supportive and welcoming environment.

Coaching Excellence – Jessica Whitfort (Peninsula Waves/Frankston District Netball Association)
Jess has been delivering coaching excellence across the Frankston and Mornington Peninsula region for a number of years. Jess is currently engaged as the High Performance Project (HPP) manager at Frankston District Netball Association, where she promotes participation, pathway opportunities and community engagement across the Peninsula.  Jess has also been the Head Coach for the Peninsula Waves – a Victorian Netball League (VNL) licence holder – for the past two seasons and has been coaching with the Waves in various roles for a number of years prior to this.

In her capacity as HPP manager, Jess has organised and presented three sessions for Development and one for Intermediate coaches in 2019 alone.  Jess has supported 34 local coaches to gain their Development coaching accreditation, and eight to upskill to Intermediate. Jess is responsible for strengthening coaching and other opportunities for both coaches and athletes across the Peninsula.  Jess also designed and hosted a Junior Coach Development Course, aimed at aspiring coaches between 13 and 15 years of age. Fifteen coaches from affiliated clubs were selected to attend, and Jess’s course provided coaching basics and resources, as well as ongoing mentoring and support. Those who attended her initial course are all engaged with their local clubs, have now completed their Foundation accreditation and are in contact with Jess for ongoing leadership advice.

Contribution to Umpiring – Meg Hopper (Boroondara Netball Association)
Meg has been Boroondara Netball Association’s (BNA) Umpire Coordinator for over 10 years and has developed a comprehensive umpire training program during this time. Meg is a B badged umpire and is also one of the younger members of BNA’s Executive Committee. Since BNA’s inception, the association grew rapidly and realised that they could not supply panel umpires for all games.

Meg developed, introduced and led their inaugural BNA Umpire Development program, which was readily adopted by affiliated clubs and has progressively grown each year. Clubs must provide badged umpires and/or badged trainees to cover senior games, and they receive financial benefit by encouraging their young members to join the New Trainee program. Therefore – thanks to Meg’s initiative – the onus is now on clubs to encourage their members to join the Umpire Training Program, resolving the issue of succession planning for umpiring at BNA.

Inclusive Netball Community of the Year – Sandringham & District Netball Association
Kris Pierce and Emily Higgins are both parents of children with disabilities and have previously found that sporting opportunities for children with similar needs are minimal or negligible. They had a vision to build a program and develop something special, and what they have achieved in such a short time at Sandringham & District Netball Association (SDNA) is extraordinary; the program has grown from zero to 38 participants in less than 18 months.

Kris and Emily work well as a team and complement each other. SDNA’s All Abilities program has gone from strength to strength, based on the coaches’ ability to develop trust and build relationships with not only the players, but also their parents and support crew.

School of the Year – St John Vianney’s Primary School Parkdale
St John Vianney’s (SJV) Primary School Parkdale has participated in the Schools’ Championships for the past three years. The school is very small with only 140 students, however despite this they have had outstanding results in their netball program.

In 2017 the Year 5/6 girls performed well in the Preliminary round of the Championships, but unfortunately were not successful in getting through to the Finals Day.  Then in 2018 the Year 5/6 girls won all of their games in the Preliminary round, but found the Finals Day very challenging.

In 2019, SJV sent a girls Year 5/6 team and a boys Year 5/6 team to the Schools’ Championships, with both teams remaining undefeated in the Preliminary round. The girls were undefeated on Finals Day, before losing to the eventual winners in the Semi Final.  The boys however went through the entire day undefeated, and were crowned 2019 State Champions.

NetSetGO Centre of the Year – Mountain District Netball Association
Mountain District Netball Association (MDNA) have a team of two 16-year-old girls who, accompanied by an adult coach, have taken on the role of coaching MDNA’s NetSetGO and Net4Kids programs in 2019.  The participants in the programs are demonstrating development and enjoyment in the sport, as well as continued involvement at higher levels of participation in netball.  The benefits of the program are visible in the pathway to MDNA’s 9/U and 11/U teams, with improved skills and increased numbers taking part in the Association’s junior competitions and programs.

Parents and participants alike provide positive feedback in regard to the commitment and attitude of the three people involved in running the NetSetGO program at MDNA, and, as one of the first NetSetGO centres to open in the state, they are very proud to have two young people dedicated to improving and increasing the love of netball in such young people.

WorkSafe Safety Initiative Awards – Maryborough Rovers Football Netball Club
Maryborough Rovers Football Netball Club are a club that focuses specifically on the safety of their players and members. The Maryborough Rovers have a defibrillator at their clubrooms and majority of their members are trained in using this life saving equipment.

Maryborough’s facilities are deemed as unsafe and unfit for competition compared to their fellow clubs within their league, and hence they are currently covering all bases to secure funding to update their courts. The netball teams throughout the club are now traveling to play elsewhere, causing financial pressure on Maryborough, however they are making up for it in other ways; ranging from first aid kits shared across the club and coaches, medical forms on file for each player from 11/U right through to seniors, and making sure Ambulance cover for each athlete is a priority.

In the future, they hope to hold information sessions for families on the basics of strapping ankles and knees to broaden the skill sets of the athletes and their support crew, whilst also educating the clubs members on correct stretching procedures and how to prevent injuries and asthma attacks.  The Maryborough Rovers believe safety is essential in all areas of the club, from players right through to volunteers in the canteen, and it must be reviewed regularly and ongoing.

WorkSafe Safety Initiative Awards – Horsham Saints Football Netball Club
In 2019, the 17/U netballers from Horsham Saints Football Netball Club aimed to eliminate ankle and knee injuries throughout the season, in order keep all athletes playing the game they love without being sidelined by injury.

These aims were achieved with zero injuries in the 2019 season by;

  • A committed coaching and official support team,
  • Adapting their training sessions to incorporate a further 30 minutes at the start of each training session and game warm-up, under which to undertake Netball Australia’s KNEE program,
  • Recruiting a volunteer qualified trainer provided pre-game taping and sports massage to players,
  • Providing all netball players at the club with two three-hour sessions from professional coaches, running player through warm ups, strength and conditioning, and recovery essentials. Club coaches were able to learn from these sessions as well.

It is hoped that season 2020 will expand upon this program and strive towards maintaining an injury-free environment for all players.

Congratulations to all of our winners, finalists and nominees, and a sincere thank you to all who do such amazing and inspiring work within our netball community.