Learning experience for Southern Force young stars
The 2017 Australian Netball League has come to a close, with the Southern Force again giving opportunities to local developing players to extend their experience and for our emerging players to show to selectors that they are capable of stepping up to the next level of the Suncorp Super Netball League.
This season, the Southern Force finished fifth, just one point out of the top four in an outstanding result for a young side. We spoke to head coach Brian Lines about how he saw the season.
What was your high point of the season?
Our trip to Canberra was a high point for the team, particularly day two against the Canberra Giants. This match was of such a high standard and was a real spectacle of netball skill for all involved. To come out with the win after a very tough match was really exciting, especially considering we had just beaten a team that was on a six-game streak.
What was your low point?
We felt the one point loss against the Tasmanian Magpies in Launceston a lot. We were the only ones to be accountable for this loss.
Who were your strong performers this year?
Kelly Altmann was our most consistent performer who always gives 100%, even when her own game isn’t on point. I also think that Amehlia Schmidt showed great leadership in the group and always gave her very best with every opportunity.
Which debutants surprised you this year?
As we had quite a young squad, there were a number of debutants at this level this season.
Rebecca Moyne was a first time ANL player this season. At times she was challenged by the intensity, however her progression through the season was very positive.
Chelsea Blackman was a late inclusion and at 16 years old, she showed some very exciting skill and tenacity, which is great for her future netball career. She will be one to watch in the Nine News Netball Cup this year.
You had a number of Thunderbirds contracted players who joined your side throughout the year. What did they bring to the Force?
We were lucky enough to have a few Thunderbirds comeback to us over the course of the season. Two of the more regular inclusions were Jane Cook and Emily Burgess, who both gave the Southern Force a boost in their respective areas and lifted those around them.
It was awesome to get Malysha Kelly at times and her skill, flare and enthusiasm was an excellent addition. I remember introducing Malysha to young Chelsea as we walked onto the court in Canberra for the first time. They formed a formidable defence in that game and it was a great experience for such a young defender to have the chance to play with an experienced international.
Your captain Gia was unavailable for most of the season with her Thunderbirds commitments, how did you fill this gap?
When Gia was around her leadership was great. Kelly took on this role fantastically and was really well supported by Chelsea Lemke and Amehlia Schmidt, who are quite experienced at this level.
Where you can improve next year to make finals?
This year was always about exposing and development the next crop of South Australian athletes to this level, particularly the step up in intensity. Each and every one of them will be better for the highs and lows of the season. Those that didn’t see much court time have also now trained in an environment that asks a lot of them and will benefit from that. Next year, we will look to continue building on this awareness of intensity and accountability.