For the past 6 years, I have partnered with Victoria University, and together we have a Netball Academy for young netballers around Victoria. The whole concept for me has been having a place where young netballers can come to experience a high-performance environment, upskill themselves but continue playing with their clubs, rep teams, VNL teams. I think its important that my academy stays neutral and we are here to support the next generation of netballers, and provide them with opportunities they may not have had before, and then let them all choose whatever direction they want to head in next. Every year we run selections for the academy usually around November/December. I think it's important to get used to attending selections, as this is common practice at the elite level, even with the Aussie Diamonds team. So it's just as much about the experience, but we also use it to categorise the girls on skill level, rather than on their age. In the past, we have had 3 or 4 categories depending on the number and the skill levels of participants. Development - Generally our U/13's starting at 11 years old. Aspiring - Mostly U/15's Emerging Elite - Anywhere between 13 - 17-year-olds High Performance - Anywhere between 14 - 18-year-olds. It's a tricky process working it all out, but one thing I always make sure we do is re-assess girls once they start the court work sessions, if they outgrow the initial category they were put in we will move them up. The girls are part of the academy for 12 months. It includes strength and conditioning sessions (more formally for the older categories) with our S&C coach Suzzane Asembo. Fitness testing, Prehab exercises, Court work sessions once a month with some specialist coaches like Matilda Garrett (Magpies Netball), Kathleen Knott (VNL Coach and former Melb Vixens player), Mon Dimovski (specialist coach and forrmer VU student), Sarah Carroll (Specialist coach), Hayley Cran (Junior coach and former VU academy netballer), and myself of course.
We also run an induction with a Nutrition session, Mental health session and a tour of the facilities at VU and Whitten Oval in which the Academy participants all have access to. 2020 academy looks a little different right now as we are all faced with being at home due to the Corona Virus, but we have been running online sessions and keeping everyone busy as much as we can, till we can resume normal sessions... fingers crossed in the last half of the year. Here are some pics of our 2020 squad.