Bannister leaves legacy of turnaround

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2012

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Outgoing Southern Steel and Netball Southland boss David Bannister says the sport in the south is in good shape and has a bright future as he reflects on his short time in charge.

Southern Steel and Netball Southland yesterday revealed Bannister had resigned from the role of chief executive and will leave the position at the end of December, 11 months after he stepped into the job.

Netball New Zealand has introduced a new zonal system where the country will now be split into five zones with Southland and Otago combining to make up Netball South.

Bannister had applied for the new role of Netball South chief executive and said yesterday he received an offer to take it on.

However, after weighing it up he decided he couldn't commit long-term to the organisation.

Instead he will head back to Australia to be with his family.

The Australian moved to the city with his family but in September last year his family decided ‘for a variety of reasons' that his wife, Kylie, and boys would return to live in Brisbane.

"It has been extremely difficult living in different countries so I have made the tough call to resign so I can return to Australia to be with my family.

"They have always been, and continue to be, my No 1 priority," he said.

His last day with Netball Southland and the Southern Steel will be on December 21.

One of Bannister's legacies will be his ability to head a turn around in the finances.

In November last year, before he started, Netball Southland and Southern Steel posted a combined loss of $230,000 but he said when the books are balanced for 2012 the organisations will post a small profit.

"The financial sustainability and security of the sport was paramount and I'm extremely confident in what we've achieved within this year that there's great security for the new zone and the game going forward," he told The Southland Times yesterday.

"We all have a fiscal responsibility to our stakeholders in the community, you know, the game of netball is very very important to Invercargill and Southland and it's with that in mind that we've taken action in the last 12 months to ensure we are in a better position than we have been previously."

Because of those financial obligations another of Bannister's pushes for the Southern Steel - along with coaches Janine Southby and Natalie Avellino - has been to try to develop more young players for the future and avoid spending up by buying in a team. "For us now because we are exposing younger players, we've got to ensure we keep that talent that we've started to develop and that will be crucial for the success of the franchise."

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Netball Southland chairperson Debbie Hodges said Bannister's resignation was unfortunate.

"We are disappointed but we respect David's reasons for making this decision," Hodges said.

Netball South chairman Paul Buckner said while Bannister was unable to take up the role with the new entity, the board had plenty of expertise within its own ranks to call on where necessary to ensure minimal disruption.

"We will continue to make positive progress for netball in the south - we have a talented and exciting roster of players competing for the Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel next season and some great initiatives to roll out for the benefit of community netball across the region," he said.

"The strong and professional delivery of our sport remains a focus and I am confident we will have the right personnel to make that happen - from the top down."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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