Pupils reap benefits of busy programme
Imagine trotting out to play a game of first XV rugby two days after fronting in the premier grade for a club team.
Essentially that's what dual registered netball players Brianna Joyes and Michaela Matenga do week in week out.
Of course there are differences, like rugby is a contact sport and netball isn't.
If you're thinking along those lines, go down to Saxton Stadium and catch a premier game on a Thursday night – you might see a physical contest many front-rowers would shy away from.
"It's such a big step up from school even though it's only that one grade difference, it's massive," said Michaela, who is now in her second year in top competition.
Nayland College girls Brianna and Michaela, along with currently injured Nelson College for Girls student Shevaun Collier, are the only dual registered players in the premier division.
Waimea College A as a team all play in the premier division but don't play on Saturday, and if the Nelson College for Girls team moves up a grade (which looks likely) Shevaun would only be able to play for that team.
The dual registered girls turn up for their respective club teams to play prems and are back on court less than 48 hours later for their college teams in senior division 1, all season long.
Not that these girls can't handle it, in fact Brianna and Michaela are enthusiasts who just want to get game time and soak up as much knowledge as they can.
"They have got a lot of experience which they can teach you, that playing with people your own age can't," Michaela said.
"You get different views from different coaches and you take the parts that suit you rather than just getting one opinion."
They are in the right place to do it, with Brianna hustling a place in the two-time defending champion Richmond Robbie's Bar and Bistro side, while Michaela stacks minutes as a starting wing attack for perennial challengers Stoke NBS.
"It's really great because for me it's like having nine different coaches in my team, they all teach me so many little things after the game," said Brianna.
Leanne Russ, of Netball Nelson, said to qualify for dual registration a player has to be playing for the top school side. "They are at the peak of where the school can take them... and then we are offering them another level."
The rules for the dual registration system have changed over the last few years to promote more of a purebred filly approach than a packhorse. Russ said back in the old days dual registered players were used "to carry a team".
"We've really tried to tighten the dual registration policy because in the past they [dual registered schoolgirls] were used to prop a team up and it wasn't good for prems or for the girls.
"Now it's just one dual per team."
It seems the girls are enjoying their time in the top flight.
"It's so much fun. My team [Richmond] have been playing together for ages and they are always having fun... They are real competitive but they're all about the fun as well," Brianna said.
Perhaps one of the most positive aspects is the girls are having an upbeat effect on their club teams.
"Brianna is like a breath of fresh air. She's such a lovely girl and she brings a lot of youthful energy," Richmond co-coach Kathleen Thornalley said.
Michaela's coach at Stoke, Priyani de Silva-Currie, said she always had a smile on her face when she was not in competition on court.
" Michaela has been with us for two years. She has come into her own now and is a star in the making. Her confidence and ability has grown, she is a leader in the team now."
Andrea Reidie, the "class" coach of the top Nayland College team, said the duo also bring a lot back to their school team.
"They have an awesome attitude. They work pretty hard and bring back their experience to the Nayland College team, which is very valuable."
No two ways about it, dual registration seems to be a win-win situation.
The Nelson Mail