By Hugh Maclean
As you will well know, over the last few years the cream of the Southern crop in football and netball terms has been selected to represent the SFNL in Interleague competition.
This evening the big Southern bus begins its journey up the highway to Boort to take on the might of the North Central association on Saturday afternoon; a foe of whom little is known but for whom our respect as a representative sporting team is strong. Ten netballers are making the journey this weekend, but what do you know about these ten fine ladies? Well, read on…
Tiffany McConnell (Captain – defence)
This mainstay of the Caulfield side could find herself at home in many different positions on the court, but it’s in defence that she shines brightly. When looking for a leader Tiffany stood out as a beacon of leadership and authority. As adept at cutting out passes as she is at setting up play for those ahead of her, Tiffany’s strength lies in an innate ability to think two plays ahead, and thus read the game quicker than most. Has been known to laugh at a shooter’s jokes whilst that shooter is taking her shot.
Lucy McKeown (Vice Captain – attack)
I refer to Lucy as a voice of experience in amongst this group of youthful enthusiasm, mainly because she’ll sock me in the jaw if I call her a veteran. A feisty competitor but smart with it, Lucy provides the perfect foil in goal attack to any shooter, whether tall or small. Excellent positionally, the Mordialloc stalwart expertly makes space for her shooting partner while having the ability to be deadly on the shot when her turn comes. Has been known to make jokes whilst taking her shot.
Britt Goldsmith (defence)
Be taken in by her ready smile and sunny demeanour at your peril. If the opposing goal shooter wants to go to war, Britt is ready, willing and able to accommodate. Her motto in defence is “the bigger they are, the harder they fall”, and Britt has been known to make many fall over the years. For there is none more difficult opponent than a Britt Goldsmith with something to prove, and she goes into this year’s match with just that. Also, she writes better than I do so she’s not on my Christmas card list…
Lesina Hunt (defence)
Keysborough make scoring against them difficult for any opponent, and a key part of this fact is the fact that Lesina is placed squarely in their defensive goal circle. The best hunter since Steve Irwin was tracking down crocodiles, Lesina has the height and reach to match it one-on-one with her opponent, but also has the speed and agility, as well as the netball brain, to stop the ball from getting that far. Don’t be fooled by Lesina’s quiet nature – inside this young lady lives the competitive spirit of a lion.
Katarina Lindqvist (mid-court)
Although a new arrival to the Southern league, in her first season at St Kilda City, Katie Lindqvist has wasted no time at all in developing a reputation as a tough and unflappable competitor. She has the potential to loom large in the nightmares of the opposition wing attack for weeks to come as she makes the creation of space a near impossible task. Katie is a fast learner – you give her an instruction and you can rest assured that it will be carried out – with the strengths of her opponent worked out quickly and accurately.
Makayla Bulte (mid-court)
In any sport, there will be players who can do what others can’t. Some though do things that others can’t even think of. Mak is one such player. A free spirit on-court, Mak has the priceless ability to read the play that little bit quicker than others around her, and uses this ability to set up opportunities for those further forward with great aplomb. As comfortable at wing defence as she is in the centre, this Caulfield pocket rocket will keep her direct opponent busy wondering what she’s going to do next, hence opening up opportunities for her team-mates.
Chloe Ballard (mid-court)
Our schemer in residence in the middle of the court, Chloe provides experience and authority while possessing the netball brain to unstitch the tightest of defences. A superb organiser at the top of the circle, Chloe has the nous to find the right pass and the patience to ignore the wrong ones, her mastery of angles rivalling that of Pythagoras (not that he played a great deal of netball back in the day). Also pretty handy at cutting out opposition passes in the middle third of the court.
Domica Wescombe (mid-court)
Caulfield’s Queensland import has quickly shown the ability to run fast, run long, and run to the right places. She also shows the commitment to drive from her northern suburbs home to the courts of the south to ply her trade every week. Domica’s positional know-how allows her to get to dangerous areas of the court whilst also opening up space for her colleagues. Whilst she will mainly be used as a wing attack Domica has also shown the ability to be a tricky customer in any mid-court position, and while her shooting could maybe use a little work she’s an option there too. I’m told she was once seen not smiling, but no-one I know saw it so I refuse to believe it happened.
Leah Seeto (attack)
Probably better known as a defender, Leah has popped up in Heatherton’s attacking circle at various stages this season, and as is her wont, has done the job with panache and efficiency. Opponents see Leah and think that she is probably a little on the short side for the position that she plays. They fail to take into account a vertical leap that allows her to play a lot taller than her stature suggests. Combine this with an admirable accuracy rating and we have our first-choice goal shooter for this weekend’s journey. All makes perfect sense really…
Rosie Augl (attack)
Our jack (or jill) in the box, Rosie has the enthusiasm of youth on her side and the fearlessness to match. She is an elite runner who will take on the toughest defenders with hard, fast and skilful drives in order to make position to allow herself, or her shooting partner, the opportunity to make her opponents pay. Always upbeat and confident, Rosie is a brilliant tonic for team morale, and her talk on-court belies her tender years, keeping the side on track with its insightful thoughtfulness. She’s a deadly accurate shot too…
And finally, there’s the lady in charge:
Mel Aitken (coach)
Better known to many as the host that has her work cut out keeping control of the madness of the “Nothing But Net” radio show, Mel Aitken is a fine netball coach in her own right. The mantle of the first ever premiership coach of the Oakleigh District club is something that can never be taken away from her, and something that she holds very dear. This challenge has given her further invigoration: she is the proverbial kid on Christmas morning, looking upon each training session with the enthusiasm of a 16-year-old while sending endless text messages to her players and fellow coaching panel members. If Southern don’t come away with a win here, it won’t be for lack of effort and planning from the boss.
So there you have it – a group of fine young ladies who have bonded together and created a strong team unit in a very short space of time. They don’t know what’s ahead of them, but they are controlling what they can, which is their own performance. Go well Southern – your district is behind you!