100 years for Geelong Central Netball Association

June 14, 2024 BY

The 1970's saw the end of box pleated tunics. Photo: SUPPLIED

Geelong Central Netball Association will mark its 100th year in October with a celebration for the ages set to be held at Provenance Wines in Fyansford.

The venue is fitting given the Association’s origins; starting in the 1920s when women’s basketball was played at the woollen mills, offering an opportunity for exercise and social engagement particularly for the English women brought out to use the machines.

Mill managers drew courts on the ground and games were played mainly at lunchtime.

By the 1930s, more and more girls were wanting to play so two gravel courts were laid at Kardinia Park, on land previously occupied by a zoo and lily ponds.

In the 1950s, more courts were laid at Kardinia Park in the present location and summer basketball was introduced due to its popularity.

In 1958, the first court lights were installed to allow night games.

Geelong Central Netball Association secretary Liz Coles said the 1970s saw many changes for both players and umpires.

“In August 1970 the word ‘basketball’ disappeared and was replaced with ‘netball.’

“It also saw the end of the box pleated tunics worn by most players, who were now allowed to wear pleated kilt skirts and a polo shirt.”

Next came the introduction of playing bibs to be worn over the shirts.

“This made the job of the umpires much easier”, Ms Coles said.

However, the most exciting advancement was in 1979, when netball fans were able to watch the sport on television for the first time.

There were also a number of Geelong superstars making a name for themselves in the 1970s, including Noela Olsen, who was Vice Captain of the Australian team, which was triumphant in 1971, and Kerry Stonehouse, who was selected as a goaler in the 1977 and 1978 Victorian State Teams.

Today, the Geelong Central Netball Association offers programs and competitions for NetSetGo, minis, juniors, boys U12s and U14s, seniors, mixed, walking netball and all abilities, with over 400 registered players and all still based at Kardinia Park.

Further details of the official 100 Year Celebration will be announced via the Association’s social media channels over the coming months, those keen to attend should mark October 13 at Provenance Wines in their diaries.

Attendees can expect an afternoon filled with history, stories and memorabilia plus an exciting panel of speakers.

For more information, to be added to the invite list, or to share any memorabilia or stories in the lead-up to the event, get in touch at [email protected]