Shepparton News


- By Zac Standish

This year’s season would end in heartbreak for Nathalia after COVID-19 put a premature end to a campaign that had it sitting one game clear on top of the Murray Netball League ladder after 12 matches.

Despite the abrupt end, the season produced an abundance of positives for the Purples with their rapid rise up the ladder resulting in coach Emma McDonald recommitti­ng to the club for next season.

With her sights now set on bringing a long-awaited netball premiershi­p to Nathalia, McDonald said she was ecstatic to be returning next season.

“I am really excited (to be coaching again), it feels like we have a little bit of unfinished business and I can’t wait to get back into it again,” McDonald said.

“The focus has quickly shifted to next year which has all seemed pretty seamless and I think we have the right mix of girls currently and if anything this COVID setback has really brought us a lot closer.”

Reflecting on the season that was, she said the team built a culture that would set it up for success moving forward.

“It has been a long time between success, so to have the girls at a point where we are all out there playing for one another was really rewarding to see from a coaching point of view,” she said.

“We have a really talented group of individual­s, so it was all about bringing all of that talent together collective­ly which I think we really achieved — so it was a shame we didn’t get to see it right through because I really felt like we were building up to play our best netball come finals.

“Throughout the year we had all sacrificed and given so much of each other into improving as a side, so it was devastatin­g we couldn’t finish what we started, but I feel we have now built a platform for more long-term success.”

Now well in the midst of planning for next season, McDonald said there were a number of areas she would be looking to focus on when the girls returned to training.

“In terms of connectedn­ess and as a team we had really establishe­d a brand this year, so the focus will be just continuing to perfect that game plan and bringing all of our talent together,” she said.

“We know how hard we worked to make that plan work, so it is really important we maintain that intensity, which is something I am not concerned about given how dedicated the group is when it comes to fitness and things like that.

“Every team always has something they can work towards, so it is really just going to come down to that preparatio­n and how much time we get to spend on the court before round one.”

When it comes to her hopes for next year, she has one goal in mind.

“I think we all have the same aspiration for 2022 and that is to bring home a flag, 2007 was the last time that the netball club won a premiershi­p and with the football club being so successful we really want to complement that — the eye is definitely on the prize.”

Nathalia Football Netball Club also took the chance to celebrate this season, hosting a virtual presentati­on night to crown its best-andfairest winners in football and netball.

On the football side, Alex Hicks polled 121 votes to claim the seniors award, beating out Tom Nihill (79 votes) and Brodie Ross (48 votes).

Abby Favaro won the women’s gong with 81 votes, while Matt Carroll (reserves), Gus Bramwell (under-17) and Ned Frostick (fourths) also came away winners.

In netball, Tegan Sutton won the A-grade award with 23 votes, while Jessi Hicks and Amy Brooks (B-grade), Alysha Cornell and Hayley Summervill­e (C-grade) and Catherine Dealy (C-reserve) also took home top honours.

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 ??  ?? Coming back: Nathalia coach Emma McDonald is returning to the Purples next year.
Coming back: Nathalia coach Emma McDonald is returning to the Purples next year.

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