As Sunshine Coast Lightning do battle against GIANTS Netball and NSW Swifts, the Club’s Training Partners and ANC talent are showing their wares on court too.
The Lightning ANC team was afforded two competitive hitouts against GIANTS Netball Academy in Sydney in recent days, after identifying the need for more quality development opportunities year-round for the emerging athletes.
Increasing the travelling squad to 17 athletes for a pre-season trip was a deliberate decision made by Lightning’s High Performance team in conjunction with the GIANTS.
“In the end this athlete groups needs to be continually learning and developing and we need match time to do that,” Byrne said.
“Julie [Fitzgerald], Jenny [O’Keefe] and the GIANTS have been so passionate about providing opportunities for this level of athletes and especially chances to play teams outside our own states.
“When they approached us to see if it was something we could manage, we did everything possible to make it happen and they have worked with us and supported the idea all the way.
“Two years without a national competition for our emerging SSN athletes and Training Partners is such a long time to sit on the sidelines and the chance to give this talent an opportunity to travel and play was one too good to miss.”
Byrne believes the trip in its entirety will motivate each of the players to return to the Sunshine Coast and raise standards and benchmarks both within the Lightning environment as well as their relevant state teams.
While Lightning fell to GIANTS Academy in both matches, Lightning Training Partner Annie Lawrie said their was a lot of learnings to take from the experience.
“It was a great hit out against quality opposition and it’s so good to finally get out on court and practise what we’ve been doing at training,” Lawrie said.
“It was so exciting to see how much we had improved from the first to the second game and was great to test ourselves with a heap of different combinations.
“Away trips are always a good time to work on connections off the court and be able to bring them together on the court and really give it to our opposition.
“Personally, it allowed me to work on my Goal Attack game, which is a big focus for me in season 2022 – so it was great to just get out there and see where my strengths and weaknesses lie.”
Assistant Coach Chris Voge said the team greatly benefited from the two outings – with the second game decided by just one goal.
“A wonderful opportunity for our SCL training partners and ANC squad members to play the GIANTS Academy team over the last two days and a great first opportunity to play some first competitive netball games and put into practice our pre-season training and learning so far.
“We had a fantastic game today where the group really step up their intensity and commitment to match.
“The 11-6 last quarter was a wonderful team effort and got us into striking distance for the win.
“We built our attacking connections and confidence in one another. In we were able to build pressure against our opposition and find clean turnover opportunities.”
ANC athletes Annika Lee-Jones, Hayley McGruther, Lily McClure and Emma Walters joined the six Lightning Training Partners across the two matches.