Two Australian Diamonds and another player competing in the new Suncorp Super Netball premiership.
That’s the premier netball competition in Australia, too.
That’s the calibre of player that’s come through the HeartKids Cup pre-season competition, hosted in Orange each year since its inception in 2012.
There was two teams in the Cup’s inaugural season, when Gabi Simpson (Diamond and captain of the Queensland Firebirds), Kristine Brice (Diamond training squad and NSW Giants) and Samantha Poolman (NSW Giants) helped their champion Baulkham Hills side win the first match.
With 13 teams on court when the 2017 tournament kicks off this Saturday, there’s guaranteed to be a host of future internationals on show at Sir Neville Howse this weekend.
“I looked at that first photo we took of both teams from that day,” conveyor and Netball NSW west/central west regional coordinator Mardi Aplin recalls of a picture of both Baulkham Hills and Orange sides from 2012.
“And out of that pic, two players (from the Baulkham Hills side) have gone on to become Diamonds and there’s a few that have played ANZ Championship and will play Suncorp Super Netball.
“I told that to the girls in the Orange team and the look on their faces was priceless.
“To have that calibre of player come through a tournament like this, it’s a great opportunity for the Orange girls to one day say they’ve played against a Diamond.”
Aplin was thrilled the competition has again grown – with an additional team bumping up this year’s team list to 13 squads.
The ACT under 19s are back for another crack at the Cup, while ACT’s under 17s and sides from Canberra and Tuggeranong will make the trip to the Orange PCYC for the HeartKids Cup, which also raises money to help provide support to families of children with heart disease.
Premier League clubs Manly Sapphires, GWS and North Shore United are also in the draw.
It’s a great opportunity for the girls to one day say they’ve played against a Diamond.Mardi Aplin
The Orange Netball Association has again nominated two sides for the Cup, now a crucial springboard for the association’s continued Regional League success.
The competition will be split into two divisions this season, with seven sides to contest the top flight in a first-past-the-post-wins format.
There’s six teams set to contest division two, with a final to decide the winner.
Perhaps more crucial to the success of the competition, the annual Life Studio HeartKids Cup coaching clinic will again take place on Saturday morning, supported by the Orange Aboriginal Medical Centre.
It will begin at 9am. Registrations are still open, with anyone interested urged to contact Aplin on 0416112886.
The first games on Saturday will begin at 12.45pm, with GWS taking on Canberra, Manly Shapphies meeting the ACT under 19s and Baulkham Hills will continue its support of the event when the girls take to the court against North Shore United.
Competition will recommence at 8.15am on Sunday.