It was an action-packed weekend in Traralgon with no shortage of fun and exciting events for netball fans of all ages.
The Vixens ventured into the community while coaching and umpiring exclusive sessions ran during the pre-season games, and crowds witnessed two great contests between the Melbourne Vixens and Adelaide Thunderbirds at Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium with the Vixens taking home both wins.
The roadshow at the Traralgon Netball Association was a fantastic opportunity for netball fans to meet Emily Mannix, Kate Eddy and Olivia Lewis, who gave an insight into what it is like to be an elite netballer.
Latrobe City Mayor, Kellie O’Callaghan joined events across the weekend including the roadshow, which hosted netball clinics, giveaways and live music as she encouraged fans to get involved in the festival of netball.
The coaching and umpiring experience was another great triumph with members of the Gippsland netball community able to attend an in-depth analysis and conversation hosted by experts Raechel Richards and Sue Hawkins.
Attendees were able to gain great insight into coaching and umpiring practices to bring back to their local associations. The workshop also involved post-match analysis with Suncorp Super Netball umpires, and Vixens coaches Simone McKinnis and Di Honey.
Although there was plenty of action happening off the court, the on-court display was just as exciting. Game 1 on Saturday endured plenty of twists and turns with the Vixens leading for majority of the match, and the Thunderbirds pushing every inch of the way. Adelaide young gun Lucy Austin made a name for herself in the pink dress, while squad member Sharni Lambden impressed for the Vixens.
Suiting up for the first time in her Vixens kit, Olivia Lewis displayed her versatility swinging from circle defence to wing defence. On her first full time contract, Rahni Samason oozed composure and smarts pairing effortlessly with Mwai Kumwenda. Fan favourite Liz Watson made her comeback having not played with the Vixens since the 2020 championship, and did not disappoint.
Sunday’s game was just as enthralling, with the Vixens snatching a come-from-behind win in the dying seconds thanks to a clutch intercept from Lewis. Both sides came out with a new-look starting seven, Lenize Potgieter sending a warning shot with her dead-eye accuracy under the post for the Thunderbirds as the Vixens tinkered with their defensive unit.
Simone was pleased with the two wins, noting that each pre-season hit out is imperative in preparing for the upcoming 2022 season.
“Everyone was just so excited to play a formal practice match. It was exciting to get back on court and playing again, there’s been so much training over the last few weeks and months.”
She also touched on the importance of depth and versatility across the squad, in particular the training partners, which was on display throughout both matches.
“They’re an important part of our day to day as a Vixens squad - they do the work with us, they train with us, they’re on court with us. It was great to give them the opportunity to travel with us and to get them out on court as well. That’s an important part of the training partner program, it’s about preparing those athletes and getting them ready for the next level in their development.”