Sam Poolman believes netball needs to keep improving as a sport to avoid losing young players to rival codes.
The Newcastle netballer, who plays for GWS Giants in Suncorp Super Netball, has designed a 10-week program for athletes aged 14 to 16.
Aspire Netball has been developed in partnership with the Hunter Academy of Sport and Poolman believes it can fill a gap in the Hunter region’s netball development.
“I sat down with Brett O’Farrell from Hunter Academy of Sport about 12 months ago and said there was a huge gap in our region from girls finishing netball now and to academy trials or state trials,” Poolman said.
“We looked at what could be done to work with these athletes because they’re not touching a netball in that time and are a bit behind what Sydney athletes do.
“We designed this intense program to work with them over 10 weeks. It’s a round picture, so it’s about specialised skills and strength and conditioning as well as educating and aspects of setting goals and resilience.”
Poolman was part of the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) program when she was the same age as the players in her program but the towering goal keeper said that opportunity does not exist any more.
“NSWIS don’t take players this young any more, so that means they’re not getting that range of opportunity that I did at that age,” she said
“That is why this program has come to life because the Sydney girls are doing that and if you’re trying to compete with them for a spot in the state team it just makes it harder.”
Poolman has been named in the Australian squad for the Fast5 World Series in Melbourne in October. She is the first Newcastle player to earn selection in a national squad since Raegan Jackson in the late 1990s.
“I’m putting my hand up saying it’s possible, I did it, there’s a lot of things that you have to make happen but just because you’re from here it doesn’t mean that you can’t reach the elite level,” Poolman said.
“I believe in a couple of years we’re going to lose a lot of younger athletes to sports like AFL because there are a lot of opportunities.
“I think that is why we have to make our sport even greater now, to keep expanding and getting better.”