The renaming and re-shaping of the Netball SA Academy paves the way for a tilt at the Suncorp Super Netball League Premiership for the former cellar-dwellers.

The renaming and re-shaping of the Netball SA Academy paves the way for a tilt at the Suncorp Super Netball League Premiership for the competition’s former cellar-dwellers.

In 2022, Netball SA will be running the Adelaide Thunderbirds Talent Academy for the first time. It aims to strengthen and contribute to the talent pathway for young South Australians wishing to pursue netball at the elite level.

This will be built upon the Netball SA academy that has existed prior to this season, which has been helping to develop talent-identified netballers, as well as umpires and coaches alike.

Within the 14-16 year age bracket, there will be approximately 80 athletes chosen to train for two sessions at Netball SA Stadium, with three other sessions included, all with Thunderbirds specialist coaching. The academy will be led by Brian Lines, Kirsty Leonard-Down, Lee-Anne Cummins and Judy Greenwood.

“By reinventing the program to better connect with the Adelaide Thunderbirds, we’re giving our athletes, coaches and umpires a stronger link to the best netball competition in the world, Suncorp Super Netball,” Netball SA CEO Bronwyn Klei said.

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The SSN has been a frustrating competition for the Adelaide Thunderbirds and their supporters.

This is in part due to the quality South Australian talent playing elsewhere league as well as coaching inconsistencies and lack of intensity in game-day performances plaguing the team from 2016 to 2020.

The results on court have amounted to just nine wins in four seasons (2017-2020) from 46 games played.

Maddy Proud NSW Swifts Suncorp Super Netball
SA born talent Maddy Proud suiting up for the NSW Swifts. (Photo: Suncorp Super Netball)

The international recruiting, however, has been shrewd, securing the services of Maria Folau, Lenize Potgeiter, Shamera Sterling, Shadine van der Merwe, Shimona Nelson and Leana De Bruin across that time.

However, it has been the lack of South Australian talent that has able to be retained by the Adelaide Thunderbirds that has supporters scratching their heads. This includes the likes of Sasha Glasgow, Sarah Klau and Maddy Proud, who have all made their marks elsewhere.

Adelaide Thunderbirds relocate
Shamera Sterling and Lenize Potgeiter thanking the home crowd at Priceline Stadium in 2021. (Photo: Adelaide Thunderbirds/Twitter)

The recent retention of local talent has caught eyes all over the league, with captain Hannah Petty, vice-captain Maisie Nankivell and Super Shot specialist Georgie Horjus all staying on board for 2022. This is sure to only add to the new crop coming through the Adelaide Thunderbirds Talent Academy.

Sarah Klau (yellow) defends Georgie Horjus' shot.
Georgie Horjus, with ball in hand, has been a revelation for the Adelaide Thunderbirds. (Image: NSW Swifts/Twitter)

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