Premiers to go under cover

Last updated 05:00 28/11/2012
barry tucker
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
Craighead Diocesan School netball coach Barry Tucker

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After years of speculation, South Canterbury premier grade netball is moving indoors on a Tuesday night for the 2013 season, but not everyone is in favour of it.

The premier grade competition will be played exclusively at the SBS Events Centre beginning on April 30.

Craighead Diocesan School coach Barry Tucker, who has won seven of the last 10 premier grade netball titles with the school team, said the move was "fantastic".

"I think it's a fantastic move and it's something I've been pushing Netball South Canterbury to do for 12 years."

Tucker said he expected the quality of play to improve up to 25 per cent thanks to the decision.

"If you look at games played indoors, the skill level tends to go up by 20 to 25 per cent.

"The games will be faster and it will mean when our representative players go away to tournaments, they'll be used to playing inside."

While the move has received praise from most, the competition's beaten finalists in 2012, Mackenzie Old Girls, appear unlikely to field a team.

Mackenzie Old Girls player-coach Cindy Robertson said her players would not be able to juggle the time constraints of work and the travel involved on a weeknight to compete.

"We're not very happy as you could imagine, I don't think we'll have a team next year," Robertson said.

With the first match set to start at 5.50pm, Robertson said her players would not be able make it, while playing the last match of the night after 8pm would see them not get home until well after 10pm.

She said she had voiced her concerns to Netball South Canterbury but no solution had been found.

It is understood Geraldine High School, who were part of the senior competition until being relegated last season, also have concerns over the change.

The top five teams from the 2012 premier competition - Craighead A, Mackenzie Old Girls A, Harlequins 1, Old Boys A and Roncalli College - have earned the right for automatic qualification into the new competition, while the three remaining spots will be decided in a challenge series leading into the competition.

Netball South Canterbury president Karen Naylor said the move indoors was a case of "now or never" as the sport battled to maintain playing numbers.

"We've seen such a decline in the growth of our player development.

"At representative level all competitions are played inside, it is a requirement of Netball New Zealand and they are pushing their regions to have all their top competitions inside.

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"It has been on our radar for a number of years and it's come to the point where we need to use it or lose it.

"We need to get our player development and levels of coaches up, that is where the drive is coming from."

Naylor said her organisation would work alongside teams to try to find a solution to their concerns before the season started.

She said the added cost to teams would be "minimal" and Tuesday night was the only night the SBS Events Centre was regularly available.

Naylor said improvements in all areas of the game would be felt in the years to come.

- The Timaru Herald

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