23/04/2024

The Sunshine Coast Lightning and Queensland Firebirds will fight it out for the Spirit Cup. (Photo: SC Lightning)

The Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lighting will meet in the inaugural Queensland Suncorp Spirit Cup, taking place in Mackay on November 26.

Originally supposed to be held in March on the Gold Coast, the game was postponed due to the severe weather in southeast Queensland.

Both teams will sense an opportunity to not only prepare for the 2023 Suncorp Super Netball Season, but to solidify the fixture as an annual event.

The Firebirds and Lightning will travel to different regional venues and location every year to ensure Queenslanders can spectate the excitement of watching live elite level netball.

Sunshine Coast Lightning midcourter Laura Scherian and Queensland Firebirds midcourter Kim Ravaillion shared their thoughts on the concept of the annual clash between the two teams.

They touched on the importance of preparations before the new season starts next year, as well as regional Queensland getting out to support their teams.  

“The Spirit Cup is an awesome idea. I think it’s great that annually, it’s going to change so we get to visit all different towns across North Queensland,” Scherian said.

“We don’t get to play many games pre-Christmas. The opportunity to get out there and play some actual netball and get some court fitness is fantastic. Getting to spread the love the love of netball up to North Queensland is what it’s really about.”

“It’s an awesome opportunity for North Queenslanders to come out and watch both the Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning battle it out,” Ravaillion added.

“It’s a rare opportunity for them and an awesome one for us to get out there and showcase what Suncorp Super Netball is all about.”

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After travelling around regional Queensland, the pair are keen to bring elite netball to places that aren’t normally offered the opportunity to watch it live.

Moving games to different locations allows for younger fans to see their Suncorp Super Netball players play in person.

”It’s important to show our support and to offer them a match up there to see it live,” Scherian said.

“At Sunshine Coast Lightning, we’ve just come back from Suncorp regional tours and that’s been an amazing experience for us as players to get out there and coach some kids who went to different schools.

“We went to associations, and they just love it. They don’t get as much netball coaching and opportunities as what city kids do. It was a great experience so offering a match for them to watch is fantastic.”

“It’s a great opportunity for us,” Ravaillion added.

“We play in Brisbane but awesome for us to get up into North of Queensland and showcase what we’re about.”

Firebirds shooter Gretel Bueta recently announced that she was pregnant with her second child, and will subsequently miss the 2023 Suncorp Super Netball and the upcoming Constellation Cup.

The Diamonds goaler previously sat out the 2020 season for the birth of her son Bobby, but came back better than ever at both domestic and international level.

While the Firebirds will miss her presence in the, Ravaillion stated that the opportunity is for someone else to step up in the shooting circle.

“It’s an absolute blessing for the Bueta family,” Ravaillion said.

“Bobby’s gorgeous and Grets is going to have another one on her hands. It’s amazing for their family, obviously a big spanner for us and we have big shoes to fill.

“It’s very early for us to source someone. Happy for her and excited for the new opportunity for a star young goaler to fill her shoes.”

After coming back from a year off the court once, Ravaillion is confident in her teammate’s ability to do so again.

“Gretel announced it quite early, so it gives us a bit of time to source a goal attack to fill her shoes,” she said.

“I think Gretel can do it again. We saw how amazing she came back after having Bobby. Having two is a bit more work but it’s completely up to her.

“I just want her to enjoy being pregnant again. It’s an amazing experience of being through it myself.

“All the best to her and she can decide whether she wants to come back or not.”

The Suncorp Spirit Cup between the Queensland Firebirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning will be played at the Mackay Multisport Stadium.

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