Netball Victoria’s newest affiliated association, Northern Pride Netball Association, have made their roar heard after their official grand opening in February.
Northern Pride’s story illustrates how the expansion of one club and the convergence of several more can create a new home of netball.
“It has been something that was a vision for a group of us for probably five years,” says association President Ian Landy.
“We saw there was an association over in the Craigieburn area, we saw there was an association up in the Whittlesea area, we saw there was an association in the Diamond Creek area and we saw there was an association in the Bundoora area.
“There was a big hole in the middle of that so that’s where we based our association, in Mernda.”
The association was inspired by a gap in the market for communities in the northern parts of Whittlesea, becoming evident after a rise in player numbers at Laurimar Netball Club.
The local club grew from a couple of teams to over 300 members in under a decade. With seven to eight teams in an age group, the club board realised they could be running their own competition instead of entering other associations’.
“We hit a point where we started to consider the possibility of an association through the increase at Laurimar. It was Whittlesea’s commitment to coming on as a second club that was the trigger,” Landy explains.
With no previous option to play Saturday morning competitions or at a representative level beyond 13/U’s in the Whittlesea area, Northern Pride saw two key opportunities that could be offered.
“Having an association that was from one club probably wasn’t seen as a true association. With two clubs we can call ourselves genuine as an association but it also sets the scene for us to invite other individuals, teams and clubs into our competition.”
“Part of the strength of Northern Pride at the moment is that we’ve got such a large group of people that are interested in investing a bit of volunteer time into this being successful,” Landy highlights.
The occasion was marked with an official ribbon cutting ceremony, that included representatives, sponsors and supporters with a roaring pack of players, coaches and umpires ready to be heard.
Landy said the sea of coloured uniforms highlighted the values of inclusion and convergence Northern Pride stands for in both its association and its name.
“Pride seems to stand up well. We really liked the word Pride, with a double meaning in terms of the way that our teams and players play, and the way our officials handle themselves, and we have identified some key values within the association that match those letters.”
As a new association affiliated with Netball Victoria, Northern Pride also hopes to promote opportunities for more young males to play the sport beginning at young age.
“One of the reasons, again, why the lion head figure was chosen was because it was not gender specific. We were trying to emphasise that our association is for boys and for girls and is inclusive in a number of respects”
Already hosting mixed competitions, Landy says the association will aim for all boys’ competitions.
“Where we have opportunity or demand is that we obviously want to run a boys’ competition but if not possible, we certainly want to run a mixed competition.”
“We think as a new association we need to set the standard. We are looking to be inclusive on all fronts around gender.”
While gender balance is one goal Northern Pride strives to accomplish, Landy says this new association has big plans for the future.
“We expect to grow, and grow quite quickly. We know that the population in the area is going to be significant. Even though we are 31 teams at the moment, we know that once people know that we exist, we expect that it will be one of those situations where if you build it they will come.”
With determination and a hunger to thrive, there’s no telling what may come Northern Pride Netball Association.
“Our mission statement is to become the best netball association in Australia. We have set that goal because we believe we’ve got the people and the knowledge and the expertise to be able to go that far,” according to Landy.
“Why shouldn’t we be the best association in the country? Our potential is unlimited.”