Netball Australia CEO Kelly Ryan (Picture: Netball Australia)

Netball as a sport in Australia is only growing in popularity courtesy of Foxtel’s world-class coverage as well as the added exposure of the athletes giving the game a bigger and better platform to showcase itself.

Ahead of the seventh season of Suncorp Super Netball in its current format, The Inner Sanctum spoke exclusively to Kelly Ryan at the SSN season launch about the growth of the competition and Netball Australia’s goals going forward.

Kicking off on the 18th of March, the Suncorp Super Netball season promises to be exciting for fans and players alike. None are more excited than Ryan who is expecting another “hotly contested competition” which should end like the past season, with the last game deciding the make-up of the finals.

“I really love the fact that we’ve continued to grow what is by far the best domestic competition in the world and this year it will be no different,” Ryan told The Inner Sanctum.

“I think the competition on the court will be incredibly hot and I have no doubt it will come down to the last game and the last minute and it did last year in terms of who made it into the finals series. It’s going to be hotly contested and off the court, we are really excited to see that growth.”

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Speaking openly about the growth of the sport, Ryan said she was always certain that netball would reach the heights it has because of the product that it is. She also takes note of the difference that coverage of not only the games, but the players themselves have made.

“We’ve always spoken about netball being a tier one sport and we are proud of the fact that Foxtel has also embraced that and allowed a lot to happen around the promotion of the sport,” she said.

“That’s what’s really critical for us, that we continue to highlight the physicality of the competition [and] the physicality of these athletes because they are actually the best in the world and we just want to make sure we can continue to give them the best platform to apply their craft.”

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Thinking about what she has been able to do as part of Netball Australia’s ascent in the sporting landscape, Ryan claimed she has innovated to allow for a bigger viewership and for the betterment of the experience of players and fans alike.

“I think that’s something that Netball Australia has done really well, is take the traditional game and find ways in which you can innovate it to make the experience more dynamic, not only for the athletes but also for those that want to watch it and participate in it,” Ryan explained.

“It is an entertainment sport [and] I’m really proud of that and that’s something we need to keep focused on, is providing what is an unbelievable experience for anyone to come and watch it or attend.”

With Netball Australia partnering up with Visit Victoria for five years, Melbourne will host the 2023 decider. After the West Coast Fever won their maiden title in Perth over the Melbourne Vixens, it’s up to either Victorian side to win to secure a ‘home’ final.

“It’s down to [the] Vixens or Collingwood really, they’ve got a prime opportunity, either one of them to try and have that extra motivation to play in front of a home crowd now,” Ryan said.

“It’s really over to those two teams in terms of what they want to achieve for everything else. I think we are just looking forward to putting on a great event and a great experience again for anybody that wants to experience netball at the elite level so it will be exciting for us to work towards that moment.”

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