Bulldogs’ roar gets louder

June 14, 2024 BY

On court: The Ballarat Bulldogs Football Netball Club aims to offer equal opportunity to players. Photo: FILE

THE Ballarat Bulldogs Football Netball Club for people of all abilities continues to grow, especially in the netball space.

Netball coach Kelsey Shaw said two full teams have been fielded for the first time in a long time.

“In the last 12 months we’ve been able to develop at least seven netball players, which is great,” she said. “That’s a full team potentially for us.

“We had nine players last year and we’ve gone up to nearly 17 players, and there’s a real interest within the 14 to 20 age group.”

This year, the club has started hosting NetSetGO – the netball equivalent of Auskick – for five-to-11-year-old children as well.

“We’re supporting them through the early stages of their netball journey throughout life,” she said.

“We’ve been able to work collaboratively with the younger generation, help them develop skills and confidence levels out on the court, and create a sense of direction for them if they want to continue to the all-abilities side of the netball when they’re older.”

Ms Shaw said the club wouldn’t have been able to expand as much as it has without the backing of a Woolworths Pick Fresh Play Fresh Netball Grant worth $8000 last year.

The club has been able to update uniforms, cover court and equipment hire, run player transport to league games in Horsham and Warrnambool, provide snacks to players, host a netball carnival and plan for two more this year,

“Last year we had our first carnival in September and this year we’ve been fortunate to have one this month, and we will have one in September,” she said.

The Bulldogs are part of the Regional All Abilities Netball League which was founded by Ms Shaw and two other women in similar roles at the Horsham and Warrnambool clubs.

“It’s been a great opportunity for all of us to integrate the three teams and get that started,” she said.

“We’ve had other towns and leagues interested in this as well which is awesome.

“The two groups we’re playing against have played for many years and they have their skills and their development is quite good.

“Many of our players have much less experience with netball, but given that, we’re still really going strong as a club.

“We’re learning to play together and develop our skills together”

Ms Shaw said the grant has also helped the club spread the word about what they do to support people with disabilities in sport.

“We’ve been able to get our name out at the Ballarat Specialist School as well as in other support services in the community, and they’ve shown a dramatic interest,” she said.

“Our goal is to give equal opportunity. We’re very excited this year.”

The Bulldogs football teams compete three or four times a month while the netballers compete once a month.

The netballers train every Tuesday night at the Ballarat Netball Association Centre, except school holidays.