City West Falcons’ championship side will be a younger looking one this season, as the club plans to invest in its youth in the Victorian Netball League.
After missing out on the top prize the past few seasons, the Falcons have decided to reset and field some young talent.
Falcons coach Marg Lind said the time was right to bring through the younger players.
“As coaches we are prepared to take a step backwards and invest in youth so we can take some steps forward the next few years,” she said. “We’ve got some really good under-19s and we’ve put a lot of investment in them from under-14s.
“We’re starting to see those kids coming through the grades.”
While there will be some new faces in the squad, a number of players have returned.
Kath Knott, Jane Cook, Maggie Lind, Maddy Balson, Jacqui Newton, Molly Jovic and Tahnysha Salanoa all returned from last year’s squad.
Among those not returning are Emily Post and Victoria Honner, who have joined Geelong, Steph Puopolo and Rudi Ellis.
Lind said they were unsure how the different approach would affect results, but were confident of still being a strong side.
The Falcons also look set to be hardest hit by the Australian Netball League season running concurrent with the VNL season.
Four Falcons – Cook, Newton, Jovic and Salanoa – have been named in the ANL squad.
“It makes it tricky as they train on Wednesday nights,” Lind said. “We’re not keen on the two seasons running on top of each other and think it has to be reviewed.”
Imogen Sexton, who comes from Bendigo, will help fill the void in defence, while Andrea Tai could get an opportunity in goals. Molly Gribble, who has never played VNL before, has also joined the club.
Lind said signing Tai, who previously played with the club, was a luxury.
“She’s prepared to play in division 1, but has championship experience and can step up.”
Lind said they were hoping Sri Lankan Tharjini Sivalingam would also return to the club pending a visa.
The Falcons’ pre-season is well under way and the side went on a pre-season camp earlier this week. Lind said they had taken a different approach with training.
“We’ve done a longer, slower preparation,” she said. “It’s been really good and we’ve done a lot of conditioning. I think we will be better physically prepared this season.”