After the longest pre-season ever, the City West Falcons will finally take to the court this week in the Victorian Netball League.
The Falcons like all other teams in the competition spent last year on the sidelines due to COVID-19.
While there was no netball, Falcons coach Marg Lind said they still did a lot of work behind the scenes.
“It’s a weird feeling,” she said of preparing for their round one match.
“The pre-season was the largest on record. We did a full year on Zoom, with three online fitness sessions a week.
“We got the Altona Netball Association involved, with all the young kids doing it as well.
“It kept the club going and together and kept the team spirit together.”
The core group of the Falcons’ 2020 squad has returned, but it likely to be a bit younger this time round with a couple of key departures.
Molly Jovic and Jacqui Newton have both secured contracts with Collingwood’s Super Netball team, so won’t be with the Falcons this season.
Maggie Lind has signed on with the Magpies as a training partner. Nicole Richardson, a long time coach with the Falcons, is the Magpies new head coach.
Marg Lind said they expected to see Maggie at the Falcons throughout the season. She said having the three players involved in Super Netball is good recognition for the club.
“It’s very pleasing,” she said. “These girls deserved opportunities a long time ago.
“We’re stoked and it reflects well on the club.”
Lind said an expansion of the second-tier Australian Netball League competition, with Collingwood Magpies and Tasmina now fielding separate teams, meant more players could gain opportunities at the higher level.
She said Jane Cook, the tallest goaler in Australia, was one player who should be getting opportunities at ANL level, to help build the country’s goal shooting stocks.
A number of younger players have tried out and could also get opportunities.
For the Falcons, the likes of Cook, Sarah Szczykulski, Zoe Davies, Maddi Gray and Tee Salanoa are among the key players returning.
Montana Holmes has come across from Ariels and will fill the void in the midcourt left by the departure of Jovic.
Rising star Melissa Oloamanu will step into the defensive end, while Emma Walters has been promoted into the championship side.
Lind said they would again have some really good young talent across all three sides.
“We have 13 players in the state squads for the under-17s and under-19s,” she said.
“Our 19s are raw, but showing a lot of potential. If we keep them at the club, we’re in a good spot for the future.”
While they’ve got one eye on the future, the Falcons are keen to continue their strong performances this season.
Lind said with COVID-19 many a number of team changes across the competition it is shaping up as an interesting year.
“We want to make finals,” she said.
“It’s been hard to get a read on who you are playing each week.”