HeartKids Cup brings out the best in squads

NETBALL

THE 2014 HeartKids Cup promises to be the biggest in the event’s short but decorated history.

Ballooning from five teams in 2013, 12 netball squads will flock to Orange on February 1 and 2 to contest this year’s Cup, a charity event that helps raise awareness for the HeartKids Foundation.

Reigniting a healthy rivalry, the Orange Netball Association’s champion state league side kicks start its campaign for a maiden HeartKids Cup when it tackles Baulkham Hills in the opening match of the 2014 tournament.

Baulkham Hills is bringing up two Waratahs Cup sides this year.

The Illawarra will also bring two sides to the tournament, the ACT State League team is making the trip as are two Canberra Netball Association outfits, two Tuggeranong Netball Association teams and the ACT under 17-19 and under 21s representative sides.

Defending champions, the NSW under 23 men’s side, won’t be attending.

Organiser Mardi Aplin was thrilled with the line-up, one that has the competition quickly establishing itself as a valuable pre-season hit-out for some of the state’s premier sides.

“In the three years I’ve been running (the HeartKids Cup) I’ve done so with the view of setting it up as a premier preseason competition,” Aplin said.

“I think people realise now it’s heading that way and I’ve been fortunate enough with a few contacts in Canberra and I play with Illawarra in the State League one competition, it’s not what you know it’s who you know.

“In saying that, the teams coming wouldn’t be if they didn’t think they’d get to play some tough netball.”

Alpin said while the standard would be extremely high, one day in the future she’d love to see a few more central west sides flying the country flag alongside Orange.

“If there’s some sides that challenge Orange one day then this tournament would be a good opportunity for them as well,” she added.

The tournament will follow the LifeStudio Netball Clinic, which will feature a number of former Sydney Swifts stars and Australian players, some of which will be playing with the Baulkham Hills teams.

Last year Adelaide Thunderbirds star Samantha Poolman assisted at the clinic and Aplin was confident more quality mentors will be on hand for the region’s young talent to learn from.

“They’ve all represented NSW or Australia,” she said of the players coaching.

“It’s a good opportunity for kids from the region to learn from this calibre of player.”

The LifeStudio Netball Clinic runs from 8.30am on Saturday February 1.

Any interested children over the age of eight can contact Aplin on 0416 112 885 or email lifestudio@bigpond.com for the registration form.

The cost for the clinic is $55 per child.

The HeartKids Cup begins from 1.30pm, immediately after the clinic.

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