2022 VU NETBALL PREVIEW
By KRISTEN ALEBAKIS
The 2022 Victoria University WRFL Netball competition will begin tomorrow night, with 35 teams across five divisions ready to fire.
After two interrupted seasons due to lockdowns, all teams are excited to finally get the season started as premierships are finally up for grabs.
One team looking forward to beginning their campaign in the WRFL is the Suns. They will be entering two teams into the Netball competition for the first time.
Suns Coordinator Jordan Sulman said after a difficult two years the squad was looking forward to competing against the best of the west, saying they were hungry for premiership success.
“It is the Suns’ inaugural season, it’s a very exciting and prestigious event to be a part of,” she said.
“Although I’m new to the Suns, I’m not new to the competition having coached last year. It’s an amazing opportunity I’ve been given to lead such talented well-rounded group of players that are hungry to win.”
Sulman said we should expect to see a disciplined and united Suns team in 2022.
“While pre-season has been hard it brought some very close friendships between the new players,” she said.
“We’ve been working hard to gel and communicate off and on court. We mean business and its something you’ll notice when watching our players.
“(We are aiming to win) a premiership across both teams, but foremost bursting into the season with a wow to show the Suns mean business and we breed success in all aspects.”
Caroline Springs is another club joining the VU WRFL Netball ranks in 2022.
The Lakers were briefly part of the inaugural season four years ago, but will be back bigger than ever this season, with teams in all five divisions.
“We have taken a slightly different approach this time around which has been a huge success,” Caroline Springs’ Emma Meissner said.
“Initially we put the word out that we were looking for players to join the small group we already had interested. Now, we’ve been able to fill teams in every division. It speaks volumes about the culture the football club has already established.”
Meissner said there was a plethora of players to keep an eye out for this season, some of which will be playing netball and football.
“Kirby Smith (has joined us), she was in the 2021 VU WRFL Division 1 Team of the Year,” she said.
“Her connections with Jane Veamatahau and Nadine Oborne under the ring is exiting to say the least.
“Down the other end of the court in defence Faith Miller is leading the defence end by example.
“We also have several cross coders taking to both the netball court and football field in Jacinta Love, Michelle Murphy and Team of the Year ruckman Molly Young.
“Their skill, strength and fitness across the two sports will be exciting to watch.”
Point Cook Centrals Coach Kelly Van Blommestein said she was excited to get back on the court, saying the competition looks set to become more competitive than ever before.
“Pre-season has been good,” she said.
“There have been a few more girls join the teams – resulting in us putting in another team.”
The Netball program has continued to grow since the club first joined the competition. This is something Van Blommestein is proud of.
“The Sharks are growing not only in seniors but juniors as well, so our pathway is to ensure our juniors can ideally keep growing with the club and have a pathway to continue playing netball,” she said.
“Our seniors are growing as we have ensured we have all sections available to cater for all ages and skill levels.”
Cross-town rivals Point Cook have been a foundation club since the VU WRFL Netball competition began.
Netball Coordinator Samantha Pruscino has been a part of it from the start, saying it was great to see the competition grow despite the challenges over the past couple of years.
“It’s amazing (to see the growth of the competition) and such a massive credit to Jessie, Kristen, Adam and all at the WRFL for their hard work growing a competition that has been so interrupted,” she said.
“I remember when we arrived for our first game in the first season wondering what we were in for, to see how it has taken shape and grown is fantastic. I look forward to seeing what the next few years have installed.”
Pruscino said this season was to be her and coach Nicole Case’s last.
“As this is mine and Nicole’s last season with Point Cook, we decided to approach this season with less pressure on training and drills, but more on having fun and rediscovering our love for the game that we have missed majority of over the past two years,” she said.
“We lost a few players who chose to sit the season out, were unable to commit, or chose to move to another club and that’s okay. I wish them the best and look forward to seeing them on Friday night.
“We now have one team to focus all our attention on and it means only two bags of lollies that I have to buy each week, opposed to six.”
Another club that has seen great growth in Netball is Braybrook.
“We are super excited that we have been able to grow our program, we are big on retention and that shows as we are inclusive of all levels and love to develop those who are willing to put in the work,” Brookers Netball Manager Megan Murphy said.
Murphy admitted the club had a rocky start to pre-season but said after appointing coaches training quickly ramped up.
“We have had new coaches come on board and with that new skills and fresh eyes which will show on court,” she said.
“All of our teams will have players to keep an eye on. Everyone who will play brings something different to the club and on the court. It is going to be awesome to watch.”
Spotswood’s Dylan Bowman said like all other clubs there goal this season is to win a premiership.
“One of our major goals as a squad would be (to win a premiership) and to always be prepared for whatever is thrown at us and to lean into the fear of the unknown rather than shying away,” she said.
Bowman said she had been counting down the days for the season to begin.
“Pre-season this time around has been exciting,” she said.
“We finally feel like we have had some consistency after the last two years. We can see a massive improvement within each individual player. We’ve come together and developed some incredible relationships as a squad.
“This year you can expect to see some new and exciting combinations. After having some new members join the club, we have gained a fresh perspective and are ready for anything to be thrown at us.”
Like many others Sunshine’s Amy Morgan is hopeful that 2022 will bring an uninterrupted season of netball.
“This season we have quite a strong team with a great balance of young players and also more experienced players,” Morgan said of the Kangaroos squad.
“Hopefully we can take advantage of this on court.
“Ideally, we would like to take it one step further by making a Grand Final and winning a premiership, but we would just love to play some good netball and be competitive in all games. Most importantly we want to enjoy ourselves as a team and the wins will come.”
Manor Lakes Netball Coordinator Kristy Wilson said she was looking forward to showcasing the new talent the Storm has recruited this season.
“We have a new head coach, lots of new faces and some amazing talent to showcase,” she said.
The Storm will feature four teams in the VU WRFL Netball competition.
Wilson said the club didn’t set any goals or expectations for the 2022 season and took a laid-back approach to pre-season.
“As a club, we don’t set goals. But we do as individuals. Each game every player will have a goal and we help work towards making them happen,” she said.
Albanvale’s Martin Beliski the club’s two teams were going to take it one week at a time.
“It is a great achievement to field two sides this year. We are looking forward to getting a few wins on the board as well,” he said.
“The girls have worked extra hard this pre-season and are ready to go.”
Finals is on the agenda for Glen Orden’s two teams according to Netball Coordinator Cory Desira.
“We have had good numbers (over pre-season) and the girls seem to be responding well under the new coach – Katelin Genge,” he said.
North Footscray’s Renay McHale said it has been a slow build-up to their netball program this season after appointing a coach later than what they would have liked. However, despite the delayed start to pre-season the club was looking forward to their first game of the season.
“We are expecting to be reasonably competitive in both our divisions this year but with the league landscape changing, there is a bit of uncertainty about whether we have our teams in the right divisions. We will wait and see,” she said.
“We just want the girls to enjoy themselves and hopefully we have a better run with injuries this year.”
Laverton Netball Coordinator Stacey Gibbons said the team was excited to get back on court and play the game they love.
“The Club, Coaches and all players have been looking forward to this moment for many months and whilst the nerves are high, we can’t wait,” she said.
Laverton have added a third team into the competition this season, with teams placed in Division 2, 4 and 5.
“With the addition of a third netball team in the Magpies Nest this year our pre-season has been better than ever,” she said.
“Week-in-week-out of laughter and learning coming together on the training courts has kept the vibes high and the skills sharp.
“All players will have their own personal goals in mind every time they take the courts.
“All teams will aim to build on their team flow and skills every week and all members on and off the court will, as always, strive towards the goal of a fun, friendly, respectful and successful season.”
Sunshine Heights is also looking to build on their performances from last year, with 2021 being their inaugural season.
Netball Coordinator Martha Weston said their focus as a team has always been to have fun and enjoy playing netball with one another.
“Last year was our first year in the competition. It was great to see so many clubs represented across all divisions,” she said.
“We are looking forward to building on from last season.
“Our main goal, apart from enjoying our netball, is to be competitive and hopefully make the grand final and possibly win it.
“I know the other clubs in the competition will have the same goals.
“We also would like to get further females involved in netball and hopefully look at multiple sides moving into 2023.”
2022 VU WRFL Fixture – Round 1
6.30pm – Braybrook 1 v Spotswood Gold (Court 4)
7.30pm – Manor Lakes Storm v Point Cook Centrals Great White Sharks (Court 1)
8.30pm – Lakers Gold v Point Cook Centrals Sharks (Court 4)
6.30pm – Lakers Blue v Spotswood Green (Court 2)
7.30pm – Laverton Magpies v Point Cook Centrals Hammerhead Sharks (Court 2)
8.30pm – Manor Lakes Storm 2 v North Footscray Red Devils 1 (Court 2)
9.30pm – Braybrook 2 v Suns Blazers (court 2)
6.30pm – Bulldogs Blue v Lakers White (court 3)
7.30pm – Braybrook 3 v Manor Lakes Storm 3 (court 3)
8.30pm – Albanvale Blue v Sunshine Kangaroos (court 3)
9.30pm – Albion v Point Cook Centrals Tiger Sharks (court 3)
6.30pm – Glen Orden Hawks 1 v North Footscray Red Devils 2 (court 1)
7.30pm – Braybrook 4 v Point Cook Centrals Bull Sharks (court 4)
8.30pm – Lakers Black v Laverton White (court 1)
9.30pm – Laverton Black v Sunshine Heights (court 1)
10.30pm – Glen Orden Hawks 2 v Lakers Grey (court 1)
9.30pm – Manor Lakes Storm 4 v Suns Beams (court 4)
bye – Albanvale White