Big plans for netball's future
ROCKHAMPTON Netball Association president Barbara Ahmat hopes for a better year in 2012, but by her own admission it will be an action-packed 12 months both on and off the courts.
With netball's participation rate growing quickly and the existing facilities at Jardine Park no longer adequate to cope with all the demands, especially at the elite level, Ahmat has been meeting with the Rockhampton Regional Council to try and work out a venue that can cope with the sport's requirements.
"We have met with the council and the next step is a concept plan," she said.
What the code has in mind will not be cheap and will require a large area of land.
"We are looking at 24 hard courts," she said.
There is also a need for an indoor facility where A-grade players could get used to playing on the boards rather than bitumen and therefore prepare better for representative action.
"We are looking at a site on Olive Street, Parkhurst," she said.
While such a venue might be considered as being well out of town, Ahmat pointed out that the city is growing all the time and at some point would be well inside the suburbs.
The project, should it eventually receive the green light, would also require parking areas and would need to be multi-functional rather than a dedicated netball complex.
It is not the first time the association has held discussions with council about a move from Jardine Park but the floods at the start of last year highlighted the vulnerability of the present location and the costs of restoration after such an event.
"Size will be a key as we look to the future," Ahmat said. "And also it has to be a reasonable facility to maintain."
Ahmat said ideally an indoor facility would have four courts with netball using that facility on a week-to-week basis in conjunction with other users.
"Ideally there has to be a master plan for a sporting area which includes netball and also recreational areas for the public," she said.
The first of the Capricorn Claws trials for the 2012 State Cup program will be over the weekend of January 14-15.
Ahmat said at present a venue has not been confirmed.
She said on the Saturday she will hold a trial match and then the Sunday session will be devoted to team training.
There are a couple of changes to the format in 2012.
"Girls can nominate for the Claws and if unsuccessful play for another regional centre," she said.
"We always name 15 players but other areas don't have the same (large) player base."
Ahmat said a sign of the development of the sport in Central Queensland is the number of A-grade teams that have already started holding trials for this season's competition.
Numbers are also promising with Ahmat confident this year's A-grade competition will have a minimum of eight teams.
She said part of the reason for club's looking to have a second A-grade team is the summer Premier League where clubs get an opportunity to try out youngsters and fringe players against A-grade opponents.
A big event this year is the Netball Queensland Carnival, which will be held at Rockhampton towards the end of July.
Ahmat said it will be another test for volunteers who keep sport going in the city.
"We could not do without those volunteers," she said.