SFL journalist Andrew Paloczi recently made his way down to Rowans Rd to check out the SFL YMCA Monash Netball.   

Despite the windswept and icy day, Debbie Collard and Debbie Hogan from Lyndale Netball Club were kind enough to hang around for a chat after their division 4 clash with Chelsea Heights (B). Perhaps they were not feeling the cold too much after their team recorded a strong performance, winning by 11 goals.

Lyndale tasted netball success last year as the division 3 premiers and one of its players, Jaimi Paton, won the league best and fairest. This year has been a struggle for the division 3 team that shares the nickname ‘Pumas’ with the Lyndale footy club. It has dropped to the bottom of the ladder.

It is a brighter story for the Dales, as Lyndale’s division 4 netball side is known. The team is in the top four and headed for finals action. The Dales are capable of matching it with any of the division 4 sides, with the possible exception of the Doveton Eagles, the division’s only undefeated side.

Collard has a strong sense of connection to Lyndale, having started as a trainer at the football club as a 20-year-old, initially prompted by a girlfriend’s uncle who worked in that role. She met her husband at the footy club and over 23 years both of them have been heavily involved there, and have been honoured as life members. Her dedication is such that she recalls with amusement having gone into labour at footy training when her daughter Bianca was getting ready to make her entrance into the world. Collard explains that she sat on the steps at the club timing the contractions.

She is currently Vice President of the football club, whilst also playing for the Dales and coaching the Pumas’ netball team. She says of Lyndale, “I would say our biggest strength is welcoming new people.” Summer-Lea Jones, a new addition to the Dales this year, was introduced to the club through a workmate who plays for the Pumas’ footy team; she happily concurs that she was “definitely” made to feel welcome. Her boyfriend has started at the footy club, further illustrating the close ties between the football and netball teams at Lyndale. The Dales often go along to support the Pumas in the footy, turning up in their netball gear.

Against Chelsea Heights (B), the Dales were slow out of the blocks and looked in danger of being beaten by the division’s bottom side. However, the Dales eventually clicked into gear. Collard concedes, “We’re always slow starters.” She explains the team finishes strongly and is reliable in defence.

As captain of the Dales, Hogan feels the season is going “really well”. She says, “We threw a team together and made changes pretty much a couple of weeks before the start of the season.” So to be in the top four is an achievement.

Hogan is praised by Collard for her ability to observe what is going on in a game and to determine the tactics required. Hogan does not consider herself a bossy captain, but she is keen to provide constructive advice to teammates. Collard describes her as “very approachable”, noting her effective communication with the team and calm demeanour.

Collard acknowledges that for next season there are likely to be some changes for Lyndale’s netball teams. The Pumas may drop from division 3 to division 4. There could also be some movement of players between the two teams if it is deemed that this will improve team balance. At the moment, there is a strong social element to who plays in which team.

When the two Debbies depart after our chat, they and other members of the Dales are on their way to support the Pumas’ footy team in what shapes as a big challenge against a division 3 powerhouse, Carrum Patterson Lakes. Perhaps the support offered by the netballers made the difference as the Pumas pulled off an upset, making them only the second team to defeat CPL so far this season.

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