After volunteering to coach her daughters 9/U netball team in 2013, Niketa Loftus soon after founded the Cragieburn Thunders Netball Club that compete in the Cragieburn Netball League.
Niketa initiated the club to give her daughter the opportunity to play netball and to make netball an option for kids from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and socio-economically disadvantaged families.
Having previously worked at a secondary school, Niketa had noticed that many of the students and participants within her netball club would start off in a sport and would often discontinue playing due to the finical stress.
“Some of the kids have skills but don’t have finical access to the sport. I thought if I could start fundraising to help these kids out, it would give the kids the opportunity to play,” Loftus said.
Niketa enabled access for these players through gaining sponsorships to fund uniforms, and registration, game and training fees. She went above and beyond to ensure players were able to attend games either by personally carpooling or hiring a bus to transport players.
“I contacted businesses within our community, explained our situation and what I hoped to achieve with their support. It gave these businesses the opportunity to be a part of the sporting community.”
The Thunders Netball Club continues to grow each year, with ten teams now playing, including two tournament teams and two playing under the Parkville Netball Association.
“I love watching the kids succeed. The team that I started in 2013 are still playing together today on a Tuesday and Thursday night at Parkville. Giving these kids that little extra support has helped develop their game and has led to successes.”
With lots of success also comes challenges, and Niketa explained that finically it is still a struggle to keep all the kids within the club, which is why fundraising and building awareness among the community is essential.
For others who are thinking about starting up their own club, Niketa advised they should just go for it.
“It is very rewarding, and even the littlest of developments make your day.”
Next years goal for the Thunders Netball Club is to fundraise enough to fly the senior players to Fiji for a sports tournament.
“We want to give the girls a culturally different experience, and sort of a humanitarian tour, that will give them insight as to what happens outside of Australia.”
Niketa was nominated for the Westfield Local Hero competition in the Craigieburn region for all her hard work in building the club from scratch. If you’re keen to get involved in your local area, check out our funding and grants page.