The Northern Inland Academy of Sport launched their new season on Sunday

FOCUS: The NIAS netball squad were put through their paces in the program's new season launch on Sunday.
FOCUS: The NIAS netball squad were put through their paces in the program's new season launch on Sunday.

Glen Innes’ dominance in netball has had a flow-on effect once again through the Northern Inland Academy of Sport. The new netball program began on Sunday and once again mother-daughter Glen Innes duo Julie and Kirstie Fuller are in the coaching ranks along with Katie Rossington and Emily Burton as a trainee coach.

Armidale’s Sophie Sincock is the head coach while Glen’s Debbie Burton is squad manager. 

Eight Armidale athletes and two from Uralla make up the 2017-18 Carlo’s IGA and Glen Innes Services netball squad. The 37 players and aoches came together for the first time in Gunnedah on Sunday for a fitness session and Sincock said it exceeded expectations. 

“The girls performed reasonably well seeing as they have had a few months off netball, their normal calendar season of netball would have finished around August-September,” she said. 

“They performed well which was exciting to see and they are just going to go to their peak fitness now which is pretty cool.

“After lunch we had a bonding session of getting to know you a bit more, we had an orienteering-style game.”

With such a large contingent of athletes coming together from as far away as Dubbo, the session also allowed the squad to bond. 

The NIAS Netball program has been one of the Academy’s standout performers and it is only going to get bigger with new training regimes introduced by the sport’s state body this year. 

Coupled with the new programs, the NIAS squad will gather 11 times throughout the season for training and development. 

“We have had a few kids make state teams and a few kids make state development teams, which is very promising for our NIAS netball athletes,” Sincock said. 

“Netball NSW have introduced a new block system so they're in a three stage block.

“Block one we can train, block two the girls are with their associations and their representative sides and block three we are allowed to get back into training again. 

“We will see how it goes this year but we can see the benefits as to why Netball NSW have introduced this block phase. Block three will let them go into state trials more prepared and have the fitness unlike ending our NIAS program earlier in the year and then our state trials, we have nothing competition and fitness-wise.”

This year’s Academy is the largest yet with nearly 300 athletes from the region participating in 12 sports.

In addition to the netball squad conducting their inaugural training session, the Academy’s Australian Rules and the hockey squad commenced their season in Armidale on Sunday.