There’s extra incentive for Australia’s brightest young talent to perform at next week’s 21/U National Netball Championships on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
While each and every athlete will be there striving to help their respective state or territory achieve the ultimate goal of lifting the coveted trophy, selection in this year’s Australian 21/U squad will carry an added bonus.
Australian 21/U coach Tania Obst said this year’s squad would not only gather for a training camp, it would also play a crucial role in preparing the Australian Diamonds for August’s Netball World Cup 2015 SYDNEY.
“It’s an exciting year in netball full stop with Sydney hosting the Netball World Cup and an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our 21/U team to be immersed in that build up,” Obst said.
“There’s so much these athletes can take out of that experience so hopefully this series will really prepare them for bigger and better things.”
The 21/U titles run between March 10-15 at the Caloundra Indoor Stadium and the national squad will be announced at its conclusion.
Obst and her fellow selectors Stacey West, Netball Australia’s National Pathway Manager, and Kylee Byrne, who’s coached Queensland Fusion in the ANL for the past few seasons, will be keeping a close on the matches over the six days of competition.
“It’s a great honor individually as well as pushing your case for selection to an ANZ Championship roster and, hopefully, onto the Diamonds.”
Not only will the squad face the Diamonds, they will also take on the New Zealand Silver Ferns prior to the Netball World Cup.
Last year the squad toured New Zealand and faced both the Diamonds and Silver Ferns before they squared off in the opening match of the Constellation Cup series.
“It was a great experience for the athletes in last year’s squad to play against the world’s two best countries,” Obst said.
“We held our own; we did take a quarter off the Diamonds but then they showed why they’re the No.1 in the world.
“Anytime a young athlete can get an opportunity to play against the world’s best is a fantastic opportunity and showcase the depth of talent in our country.”
Defending champions South Australia (pictured left) are aiming for a hat-trick of titles, a feat the state has achieved twice in this age group – 1959-61 and 2002-04 – and have seven players returning from last year’s squad that won on its home court in Adelaide.
Hosts Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria – that has finished runners up to South Australia the past two years – will be the leading contenders looking to take the title away from the the reigning champs.
For the first time in three years, all eight states and territories are taking part in the tournament following the return of Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
You can get all the tournament results, ladder and stats by clicking here and follow @NetballAust on Twitter and Facebook for regular updates.