ORANGE’S open netball team defies the cyclic nature of sport.
Rarely do teams dominate the way Orange has for such an extended period of time without going through the traditional “rebuilding” phase.
Orange has been at the peak of its powers for nigh on two decades and, with 18 consecutive Central West State League titles, a Netball NSW Inter-Regional State League title and after last weekend its maiden Netball NSW Open State Championship title under its belt, veteran goal shooter Mardi Aplin can’t see Orange’s dominance waning.
“There are some very good signs for the future of Orange Netball Association,” she said as she reflected on the state championship win.
“We have a few girls, myself included, in their 30s now in the opens team and people will start moving on soon enough.
“In saying that, we have a lot of younger girls as well so a core group will always be there. When people move on, the younger netballers in the association will take their place.”
Despite Orange’s under 17s and 21s producing lacklustre performances at last weekend’s state championships, finishing 20th and last respectively, Aplin said the experience was invaluable.
“They’re all babies,” she explained.
“Most of, if not all, the 21s can play again next year and I think only a couple of 17s were top age.
“In Orange, if players are eligible for an age group they play that age group, no matter their ability, so those girls will be together next year too.
“Most of the 21s girls all play in division one, and it’s a high quality competition, so they’ll continue learning.”
Aplin said the quality of the Orange Toyota Cup meant the city would continue to produce strong representative sides.
“All the younger girls play division one, or will soon,” she said.
“Despite playing for different teams they know each and will keep getting better. When they’re old enough to trial for the opens team I can’t imagine we’ll have lost too many of them.”