City West Falcons to face familiar challenges

Picture Shawn Smits.

By Tara Murray

It will again be a case of the unknown for the City West Falcons as they head into the Victorian Netball League championship season.

While they only have one change to last season’s premiership team, Falcons coach Marg Lind said a number of factors would influence their success.

“We’ve been training hard and looking forward to seeing where we are at,” she said.

“With so many in the state program and ANL [Australian Netball League] it will be a bit of a jigsaw of who is playing week by week.

“We’re running a bit of a smaller squad than other teams so that is a risk.

“We’ll give it a go and hopefully we should be in the mix. How we manage ourselves and cover injuries will be a key.”

Sarah Szczykulski has joined the Falcons. Picture Shawn Smits.

While having so many players in and out of the side is not the ideal set-up, it’s nothing new for the Falcons. They had a similar situation last year and came through and shocked everyone by claiming the championship.

Lind said they were hopeful there would be more flexibility with ANL commitments this year, which would help the Falcons, which has three players across two teams.

One of those, Jacqui Newton is set to miss the start of the season with an ankle injury.

Last year, some of the Falcons’ younger players were given the opportunity to step up into the top team.

Lind said that helped with their development and prepared them for the challenges this year.

One thing that will help the Falcons is that all but one of the premiership-winning championship team is returning.

The departure of defender Maddy Balson hurts the Falcons, but Lind said the signing of Sarah Szczykulski had filled that void.

Lind is also bullish of some of their under-19 players they picked up.

She said Jasmine Fraser, who moved down from Canberra, was someone who could potentially step up in the defensive end in the top side in the future.

Chloe Langley and Daisy O’Kane are two others who have joined the under-19 team.

Coming off the premiership, Lind said they had again thrown some different elements into the training schedule.

They mix up personal training sessions, boxing and Bikram Yoga, along with time on court.

Lind said she believed the yoga had been beneficial in helping prevent injuries.

“We want to keep raising the bar and adding more elements.”