Ballarat Sovereigns secure three-year licence in state netball league

BALLARAT will play on in the Victorian Netball League.

Netball Victoria yesterday granted the newly formed Ballarat Sovereigns a three-year licence to play in the statewide competition.

Sovereigns replace Ballarat Pride, which was the only team in the 10-strong competition not to have its licence automatically renewed for 2015 to 2017.

The new Ballarat-based entity was formed in response to the axing in a bid to ensure the city continued to be represented at state level.

Sovereigns administrator Jordan O’Keefe said Netball Victoria netball operations general manager Michelle Gerdtz informed the Ballarat group on Friday morning that its application had been successful.

He said the announcement had been met with real excitement by the Ballarat netball community.

“The phone hasn’t stopped ringing ... the text messages, social media. There’s been a great response.”

O’Keefe said the bid’s success was a fitting reward for a lot of hard work in a relatively short timeframe.

“We’re grateful for the all the support we’ve had.”

He said the way the community had rallied to maintain a presence in the VNL reinforced the importance of the sport to the city.

Netball Victoria announced on April 8 that Pride’s licence would not be renewed, but left the door open for Ballarat to apply to the vacant spot.

In a first for netball in Ballarat, Sovereigns was set up by a group taking in stakeholders from across the netball and sporting communities – Ballarat Netball Association, Wendouree Netball Association, Central Highlands Netball League, AFL Goldfields Netball (Ballarat FNL, Maryborough Castlemaine DNFL and Riddell DFNL), City Of Ballarat, North Ballarat Roosters, Ballarat Basketball Association, Federation University of Australia and Ballarat Pride.

O’Keefe said the board would meet for the first time next week under the chairmanship of Bill Mundy.

He expects one of the first tasks for the broad will be to finalise a coaching panel, to be headed by a director of coaching and head coach.

Sovereigns have already secured Australian representatives Natasha Chokljat, Liz Boniello and Elissa Kent as specialist coaches.

Gerdtz noted that the strength of the proposal put forward by the Sovereigns and the new integrated and targeted approach to off-court practices would be extremely beneficial for the growing Ballarat netball community. 

“The proposal put forward by the Ballarat Sovereigns is extremely detailed and addresses all of the requirements that Netball Victoria sees as critical for success of a VNL club and the league itself,” Gerdtz said.

“The Ballarat Sovereigns personnel are committed to making their netball community a strong regional centre and with this proposal, we believe they are taking the right steps to move forward, continue to grow our sport and create strong opportunities for people within the region.

“We have in the VNL one of the strongest netball competitions in Australia, and we are continually looking to provide our athletes, coaches, umpires and officials with the best pathway development possible.”

Ballarat Pride was an inaugural member of the VNL in 2009 and fielded teams in the championship, division one and 19/under competitions until the end of this year’s season, which finished this week with grand finals.

Sovereigns will join City West Falcons, Boroondara Genesis, Southern Saints, Peninsula Waves, Monash University Storm, VU Western Lightning, DC North East Blaze, Geelong Cougars and Yarra Valley Grammar Ariels.

david.brehaut@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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