Netball community celebrates growth


Netball communities from across the state celebrated the 2015 Netball Victoria Gala Awards night at the RACV Club in Melbourne on Saturday 24 October, with a particular focus on the Community Netball Awards.

The evening recognises the outstanding contributions to the sport of netball by individuals and groups, volunteers and community members, who on a regular basis go above and beyond what is required to facilitate the success of the sport at all levels.

Netball Victoria congratulates all finalists and extends a sincere thank you to all netball communities across the state for their excellent work in 2015.

Please find full details on all award winners below.


Volunteer of the Year*

Jo-Ann McCarthy – Mulwala Football Netball Club

Jo-Ann is the secretary for the Mulwala Football Netball Club (both football and netball) and she also umpires and coaches every week. Jo-Ann has invested hundreds of hours over the past 12 months in order to construct a new netball complex at the Football Netball Club.

The Club fields 8 teams in the Murray League competition and the girls previously played on severely deteriorating tennis courts that did not meet the safety standards as mandated by Netball Victoria.

As a result, Jo-Ann led and drove a $195,000 project to upgrade the netball courts, which required numerous grant applications, business deals and negotiations with council, gaining sponsorship as well as a major fundraising drive. During 2014, Jo-Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer, requiring surgery and 6 weeks of radiation therapy. However, this did not deter her from continuing to drive this major project.

She was subsequently successful in obtaining two grants totalling $80,000 as well as well as a $50,000 interest free loan from the Shire. Numerous letters and advertising resulted in a further $40,000 of donations and sponsorship being gained with the committee working hard to raise the remaining funds. Construction commenced in February of this year and the courts were officially opened on Saturday 30th May – this new complex guaranteed the future of netball in Mulwala.

Netball is extremely lucky to have someone with the passion, motivation and drive to see such a major project through to fruition. Without Jo-Ann’s efforts Mulwala would not have been able to achieve such a successful result that ensures increased participation for many years to come.

Jo-Ann has gone above and beyond in order to fulfil the outcomes of this important project and produce a quality result for Mulwala Football Netball Club, Lonsdale Reserve and the Mulwala Community.


Jan Schulz – St Albans Caroline Springs Netball Association

Jan exemplified what it means to volunteer in netball, whilst simultaneously being the catalyst for change and growth that has seen St Albans Caroline Springs Netball Association become what it is today.

Jan took over running the Association in 1983 and has remained its loyal President for 32 consecutive years – although initially taking up the role of President with the understanding it was only a ‘fill-in’ position. Jan incorporated the Association in 1985 but prior to this ran the Association with the help of a secretary. Jan is referred to as a ‘Jill of all trades’ – both being hands on in the Association and a selfless leader doing between 5 – 40 hours per week, averaging 20hrs per week of unpaid volunteer work all for the love of netball and the Association’s almost 1700 members year in year out.

Jan has achieved all of this whilst also having a full-time job, being a committed wife, mother, grandmother and friend, maintaining her commitments to the Association, its members and netball through it all.

Having played netball for 39 years along with the 20+ hours she does on average per week she also attends discussions with council, does the fixtures for all nights and venues, is a court supervisor at competitions, organises coaching courses and umpire training, keeps records of all player details from competitions across the Association and has incredibly kept the running total for all teams best player and junior best and fairest votes of the nearly 1700 members for 32 years straight.

Jan always has time for others, she graciously gives lifts to representative players to get to competitions and tournaments so they are able to play. Her steadfast work has seen her grow the Association from 38 ladies teams and no junior teams when she took over to a record number 168 teams in 2014 including juniors. Jan was also pivotal in securing the Caroline Springs Leisure Centre for additional competitions in 2008 where the Association has been able to thrive.

Jan Schulz is the heart, mind and backbone of the St Albans Caroline Springs Netball Association. A Fairfax article from 2006 quoted Jan as saying ‘You don’t do these things for the recognition. You do them because you enjoy them. I wouldn’t be there if I didn’t enjoy it.’ It is widely felt that without Jan’s involvement over the years in netball that the St Albans Caroline Springs Netball Association would not be where it is today – players, umpires, coaches and parents truly appreciate all the work she does.


Outstanding Contribution to Coaching

Joan Foat – Heyfield Football Netball Club

Joan has dedicated her whole life to netball as a player, coach and committee member.

One of Joan’s first jobs was at the Gippsland Grammar School in Sale. Here she also took on the role of Netball Coach and coached this team to State Champions on numerous occasions. She continued her coaching over the years with great success and in 2009 moved to Heyfield where she quickly associated herself with the Heyfield Football Netball Club and took on the A grade coaching position.

At present, Heyfield has six netball teams (2 junior and 4 senior). Joan has been a critical influence on how the club has presented itself both on and off the court. Joan’s involvement at the Club has been crucial to its improving success, she helps parents that coach junior teams and assisted in the delivery of NetSetGO.

At 75 years of age, Joan attempts to retire from coaching every year but once she finds out the club is short of coaches she puts her hands up and Heyfield Football Netball Club entices her to return. Joan prides herself on good sportsmanship and it is definitely noticed out on the courts when she is present.


Outstanding Contribution to Umpiring

Joy Bennett – Deniliquin Netball Association

Joy’s involvement with the Deniliquin Netball Association tracks a pathway which has seen her in many roles as a player and valued committee member to umpire and umpire development coordinator.

Joy has consistently contributed to the development of umpires not only in Deniliquin Netball Association but throughout the regional area in a quest to ensure quality umpires are available to officiate our great game.

Joy is a life member of the Deniliquin Netball Association, ‘B’ badged umpire and among her many contributions to the Association she provides the Umpire Development Program each season. In 2015 alone, the Deniliquin Netball Association saw 10 umpires in training achieve their ‘C’ badge accreditation.

Joy has been a long-standing supporter of the DNA’s Representative Squad which participates in regional tournaments throughout the winter season and has continually umpired and coordinated a pool of umpires required for teams to participate.

Joy’s contributions allow Deniliquin Netball Association to provide young representative players with the opportunity to participate in regional Association Tournaments and in Joy’s own words she likes to remind others ‘without the umpires, there would be no game.’


Outstanding Association of the Year (Large)

Casey Netball Association

Casey Netball Association has well over 3,000 members with more than 400 teams participating in competitions delivered year round at the Casey Indoor Leisure Centre. This number includes 120 open ladies teams on a Monday night alone, 45 mixed teams and 260 junior teams.

CNA is made up of an eight person Board with all members having valuable experience to contribute to the growth and development of netball in Casey. The Association employs a competition coordinator, finance officer, development officer and several casual staff to coordinate competitions at additional external venues to cater for the demand of netball in this high growth area.

CNA currently has 10 representative squad teams all competing at Netball Victoria competitions and tournaments annually. The Association also supports developing coaches and umpires through several pathways, holding regular accreditation courses and delivering mentoring programs.

In 2015, CNA developed a Strategic Plan with the assistance and support of the City of Casey Council, Netball Victoria and Steve Pallas of Sports Community. This plan will ensure CNA and other key stakeholders are well prepared and planned for the substantial growth in population in the City of Casey and surrounding areas and able to cater to the needs of the community moving forward – including usage of soon to be redeveloped new indoor courts at the Casey Indoor Leisure Centre.


Outstanding Association of the Year (Small)*

Peninsula Netball Association

Established in the 1960’s, over time a pavilion at the facility has been extended, lights erected, representative teams organised and a long list of life members elected.

Peninsula Netball Association is an exemplar of how our football netball leagues and associations can work together instead of competing to provide netball opportunities by maximising each other’s strengths. In 2013, PNA joined forces with the Drysdale Football Netball Club co-leasing and sharing courts and facilities. PNA operates over the Spring and Summer and Drysdale Football Netball Club runs over the Autumn and Winter months. This means netball is available and operating for the local community all year round.

PNA targets a different netball community to the Drysdale Football Netball Club by focussing on junior (particularly NetSetGO), social women and mixed netball teams to partake in their competitions and development opportunities. With a passionate committee and group of volunteers PNA is looking forward to continuing to develop and promote netball on the Bellarine Peninsula for many years to come and in their words – ‘just as we did in the old days, only different.’


Beechworth Night Netball Association

Having been in operation for 20 years, Beechworth Night Netball Association has a proud history of committed volunteers and members and has recently made some changes, including the movement of everything to an electronic platform for the first time maximising the advantages of MyNetball, online registrations, payments, accounting and communication to keep their members informed including emails, texts and Facebook.

Each week the Association calls on its members to fulfil operational duties to ensure the games run smoothly, this includes – umpires, scorers, people to open and close the stadium and to set up and pack away resources. This form of management is proving highly efficient and contemporary – somewhat of a prototype for other Associations across Victoria to replicate to reduce the workload on our volunteers. Sharing out all their small operational tasks spreads the responsibility and allows all members to contribute to the organisation and in turn gives the Association sustainability and longevity.

Beechworth Netball Association is extremely proud that their competitions connect women in their community both young and old and provide opportunities for local, healthy competition, regular social and physical activity.


Inclusive Netball Community of the Year

Leongatha & District Netball Association

Approximately 2 years ago a local alliance of disability service providers and the South Coast Access Alliance made an attempt to establish an All Abilities netball program in South Gippsland, after some effort and for a variety of reasons unfortunately the program was not sustained.

In 2014, with a different committee in place at Leongatha & District Netball Association and due to an overwhelming demand – the South Coast Access Alliance agreed to make a second effort to re-establish a sustainable All Abilities netball program in the region and the 4-week skills program for interested people with a disability took off.

As a result, 7 affiliated clubs have become more involved in the development of the Association’s All Abilities program to provide netball opportunities for people with an intellectual disability. Currently Leongatha & District Netball Association has two keen volunteers in Rebecca Arnason and Lisa Kuhne who lead and run the Associations All Abilities program.

Proudly on the 25th April 2015 the LDNA launched the region’s very first All Abilities netball competition. Costs are kept at a minimum to encourage participation. The organising committee of the Association are currently seeking funding to facilitate access and inclusion for all people to further boost participation in the program – this will be in the form of funding to assist with transportation of participants to and from the program. The Association believes that with this assistance they will increase participation in the program for individuals from across the region.

Integral to the success of this program has been the overwhelming support and collaborative effort between Netball Victoria, Leongatha & District Netball Association, the South Coast Access Alliance, local disability service providers and the two key program coordinators. This program has truly been a team effort.


NetSetGO Centre of the Year

Kensington Primary School

In 2013, a small group of passionate volunteer parents came together to address the lack of netball opportunities for young girls in Kensington. At the time there was no NetSetGO program running in the area nor at any netball Association, League or Club.

The group quickly realised that running a program at the local primary school was crucial to ensure inclusiveness and accessibility for those wanting to learn how to play netball and together with the support of Kensington Primary School and Netball Victoria, this group of parents established a NetSetGO program and within days of advertising were overwhelmed by responses from parents wanting to enrol their child.

With extracurricular activities often being prohibitively expensive for many parents, Kensington Primary NetSetGO ensures the cost is as minimal as possible with the program run by volunteers, the school providing their hall and netball court free of charge and Netball Victoria subsidising a few members of the program from the CALD community. They also provide healthy fruit snacks for the participants before and after training and competitions – all coordinated by volunteers.

Kensington Primary NetSetGO began to recruit additional parent helpers to assist with entering teams into the Parkville Netball Competitions Set Competition on a Saturday. They have not only grown their NetSetGO program but importantly have grown the confidence of the program participants.

Most importantly Kensington NetSetGO has created a real sense of community bringing everyone together with the aim of further growing opportunities for young girls in their area.


WorkSafe Safety Initiative Award*

Mulwala Football Netball Club

The Mulwala Football Netball Club is part of the Murray League Competition and fields 8 netball teams comprised of 80+ girls each week. The club embarked upon a major fundraising drive combined with a number of grant applications to improve their courts and facilities. Since then Mulwala Football Netball Club has officially opened a brand new netball complex including two purpose built courts, competition lighting as well as seating and shelter for players and officials.

Further to this they have upgraded a number of areas to further enhance safety such as; new post padding, new water squeegees, the installation of bollards at the new complex and laying instant turf to cover muddy areas surrounding the courts. The safety needs of all players, officials and spectators has now been met with the girls able to participate in their netball in a safe and enjoyable environment.


Birchip-Watchem Netball Club

The Birchip-Watchem Netball Club is a part of the North Central Netball Association. Comprised of 85 players ranging from NetSetGO through to seniors, 2015 has seen the finalisation of a nine-year safety initiative and infrastructure improvement plan for the club which has been made possible by a hard working committee. The Birchip-Watchem Netball Club is dedicated to reviewing, maintaining and upgrading their facilities to ensure that the National standards are being met.

The club has recently been acknowledged for participating in the VicHealth Healthy Sporting Environments program. As a result of participation in this program the club has since implemented improved safety practises such as; a vision statement displayed at their club, updating their injury report form, purchasing a new first aid kit complete with additional smaller kits for quick access on game days, UV and Slip, Slop, Slap signage displayed around their club as well as developing a Sun Smart policy and appointing a Sun Smart officer who was responsible to enforce their new policy and create a Sun Smart kit.

The Birchip-Watchem Netball Club has also had major court work and facility upgrades made possible by grant applications, support from the Buloke Shire Council and fundraising by club volunteers. The Club says it is committed to ensuring their netball facilities and practises are safe for everyone to enjoy the game of netball.

* Denotes joint award winners