Twenty-three of the Mid North’s best young netballers will be in Adelaide this week for the Mellor Olsson Academy Games at Priceline Stadium.
Begining on Tuesday and ending on Thursday, the Northern Regional Netball Academy will be competing against other academies from around the state with selectors keeping a close eye on all the players with spots on the state 17 and under side up for grabs.
Players have been selected from the North Eastern Netball Association, Northern Areas Netball Association, Yorke Peninsula Netball Association, Kadina and Districts Netball Association and the Adelaide Plains Netball Association, and range from the ages of 14 to 16.
The academy has been in existence for the past 11 years where under 13, 15 and 17 teams were selected with about 60 players in total across the three teams.
However this year marked the first time where a maximum number of 40 players could be selected for the academy in the 14 to 16 year age group.
Last Wednesday, the academy held their last training session before the tournament and selected the squads for the two teams which will compete in divisions one and two at the tournament.
Academy coach Deb Heinjus said she was happy with the players selected for the academy and the development they have shown over the last six months.
“I am putting faith in my players, I think they have really improved over that six month journey,” she said.
“Their skills are so much better and they are a lot fitter.
“We are playing some really good netball and I feel confident that they can go down to Adelaide and perform really well, but it is not about winning the championship, it is about them performing to their maximum ability.
“Hopefully at the end of the carnival we will have some players who will be invited to phase two of state selection.”
Mrs Heinjus said the academy set up was a good chance for girls from country areas to be able to progress their careers by having the opportunity to play for the state team.
“Initially the academies were set up to encourage the inclusion of country netballers in the state team because it was all very metropolitan based,” she said.
“Once the academies were introduced it is amazing how many country girls have gone on since to represent SA.”
The girls have taken part in extensive training sessions during their time in the academy which has seen them travel to Adelaide for a three day training camp at Immanuel College, as well as a session in Clare under the guidance of Michelle den Dekker and Scott Waddington.
Mrs Heinjus said there were “quite a number” of players within the academy that could potentially be selected for the second phase of state selection with an impressive display at this week’s carnival.
Those that are not automatically selected to progress to the second phase still have a chance to win a place through open trials held in Adelaide.