Netball state age championships: Armidale finish undefeated

TOP OF THE TABLE: Armidale Netball's under 15s finished as undefeated champions at the state age championships in Sydney at the weekend. Photo: John Grant.
TOP OF THE TABLE: Armidale Netball's under 15s finished as undefeated champions at the state age championships in Sydney at the weekend. Photo: John Grant.

Armidale Netball’s under 15 team overcame injury and fatigue to become the first team in the local association’s history to bag a state age championships trophy. 

Seven minutes into their three-day campaign, Janine Widders-Lockwood went down with an injury leaving just eight players to finish the tournament.

With only one substitute, the girls powered through 20 games to finish as division four champions. 

“We had injuries, we were managing them – they were stretching, they were hydrating, we were massaging them out and the fact they actually got through was awesome,” coach Rochelle Joyce said. 

“Three weeks before we went to Coffs and we actually had to withdraw from the carnival because we had three injuries so we came in [to state age] with niggles.

“The fact they got through undefeated was amazing.”

The squad has been together for a number of years and Joyce said they have had their sights set on snagging the state trophy for a long time. 

“This has been part of a four-year plan for this group of girls. They had a vision,” she said. 

“Last year we came third and this year our goal was a top three placing and to come away with it is awesome. 

“They were disappointed last year so maybe that gave them a bit more fire in their bellies and I do think with the fact that we ended up with the Janine injury, I think that influenced the fact that they were there and supported each other.

“They are really tight, they love each other, back each other up and are really social with each other.”

The Armidale team also managed 450 goals for the tournament – 71 in front of the next highest team. They also recorded the lowest amount of goals scored against them with 171.

There will be no state age for the group next year and they will have to make a bigger step up to under 17s. 

“We have merger between the two age groups so it will just depends on who decides they want to keep going,” Joyce said. 

“This is a big dropout age unfortunately, they get jobs and social interests, however these girls are workhorses who train hard.

“I would be surprised if they all let it go.”