THE BIG PICTURE: Fitting recognition for a netball powerhouse

WITH the HeartKids Cup in Orange, you no longer have to leave town to watch a top level game of netball.

The weekend’s event, which attracted 12 teams, was played at an outstanding level.

It attracted three of the ACT’s representative teams who were starting preparations for this year’s national championships.

Then you had Baulkham Hills, one of the top teams in the Netball NSW State League competition.

For years netball fans have been watching Orange smash their rivals in the Central West State League competition.

It’s amazing to watch our side challenged in the HeartKids Cup and see them lift another gear.

The fact the HeartKids Cup, established by Orange’s Mardi Aplin, has grown from a one-game exhibition match to a 12-team competition, says a lot about how Orange netball is perceived by those further up the food chain.

Aplin had two goals in mind when she set up the event.

The first was to raise awareness of HeartKids, a foundation which supports the families of children with heart disease.

The second was to raise Orange’s profile in the netball world and encourage top teams to bring their game to regional areas.

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Not only are there top players and teams on show over two days, some of the players also give their time to run a junior netball clinic.

It means the region’s young players aren’t just sitting on the sidelines admiring the skills of top netballers - they’re learning those same skills.

Orange has been a netball powerhouse for a long time, but now it looks like they’re getting more recognition.

Teams from much bigger associations are starting to realise Orange is not to be taken lightly.

There are a lot of people who have been waiting a long time for this sort of recognition.

Now the Orange Netball Association needs to make the most of it.

If you’re not on the netball bandwagon, now’s the time to hitch a ride.

It could be leading to big things.

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