We all know. 2020 wasn’t a great year.
But if there was a silver lining for netball community, it was the addition of the 12-player squad in the Suncorp Super Netball as the competition entered the COVID-19 bubble on the Sunshine Coast.
While it may not seem like much, two extra players in and around the squad made a huge impact for both clubs and fans alike.
What made the extended squad so great was that it allowed fans to see the likes of Nyah Allen, Elle McDonald, Georgie Horjus, Tippah Dwan and Allie Smith showcase their talent.
On top of the fan enjoyment, those same players were able to show coaches around the globe what they had to offer – they made statements in their own way.
Prior to 2020, these players would rely on injuries to be able to have the opportunity to at least sit on the bench.
Sadly, for the 2021 season, netball will return to the status quo – 10 player sqauds. This change has unfortunately seen fan favourites leave their clubs while some have even left the leagu completely.
Nyah Allen is a prime example, Allen took the league by storm in 2021 for the Collingwood Magpies. But where is she now?
Admittedly, we don’t know if she’s going to be a training partner for ‘Pies just yet. But what we do know – if the squads were 12 players, someone would have found a spot for her.
Chelsea Pitman, who last played for the Thunderbirds, also missed out. Well, completely missed out. The England Rose is being relegated back to community netball – much to the dismay of many fans.
In the brutal world of pro sports, sometimes clubs move in different directions. But the coaches had just 10 spots to work with.
It would be remiss for me not to mention that a whopping seven players on court at any one time.
While talent is being left out in the cold professionally, is the squad sizes having an even greater impact on the Diamonds program?
The SSN clubs are looking to win premierships. So, in their hunt for success, a host of coaches have turned to international players over homegrown talents.
Rightly or wrongly, it will force young Diamonds out and into overseas competitions or even state leagues.
Leah Middleton (Surrey Storm) and Donnell Wallam (Leeds Rhinos) are just two examples of those who have made the move to the Vitality Super Netball League in recent seasons.
So, is it time the SSN goes back to 12-player squads? I think so.