Barbara happy to dream

THE Firebirds playing at Rockhampton; Central Queensland would love that but president of the local association Barbara Ahmat admits at the moment it is only a dream.

Netball Queensland chief executive officer Cameron O'Hara stimulated interest in the prospect when he was reported by the southern media as saying he would like to see the Firebirds play at least one game each year in a provincial area.

He went on to say there was no reason a game could go to Rockhampton or Townsville.

When contacted by the Morning Bulletin O'Hara stuck by his original statement but admitted he was not aware what facilities at a centre like Rockhampton might have.

While Brisbane remains the home of the Firebirds, the opening game of the 2010 ANZ Championship will start at the Gold Coast and O'Hara believes the flagship of Queensland netball could chart a course north in years to come.

There is a catch.

“The surface would have to be good and the lighting good enough for television, plenty of access for broadcasting vehicles and seating for about three and a half thousand spectators,” he said.

O'Hara said he had brought the name of Rockhampton into his comments as he was aware that the sport is growing locally.

“They (all Queensland) are the ones funding the Firebirds and therefore it makes sense to bring one game away (outside Brisbane),” he said.

If only, agrees Rockhampton Netball Association president Barbara Ahmat.

“I don't see that happening any time in the near future,” she said.

Last year the “second tier” competition with the Claws played a round of the state competition at Rockhampton.

“We would love to host the Firebirds,” she said.

“When we had the Claws here we had the most spectators (of any venue) but we had nowhere to put them.”

That event was staged at the gymnasium at CQ University as the dedicated netball courts at Jardine Park are inadequate for holding top-level matches.

Moving elite netball games indoors is one of a number of items under discussion with Rockhampton Netball, Rockhampton Regional Council and other interested parties including the university and local parliamentary representatives and a push is being made for further discussion in the near future.

“Netball has got to step forward,” Ahmat said.

She does not believe any of the current structures provide an answer to netball's needs.

“Hegvold is basketball specific,” she said.

“We hope something is built in the future.”

In the meantime the problem remains for netball, a sport that is becoming too popular for the facilities currently in place.

“We'll be keeping an eye on Biloela as they have a new netball facility there,” Ahmat promised.

Playing senior games indoors will be addressed by members at an Open Forum at the Netball Association clubrooms on October 21 starting at 7pm.

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