An ambition to get back to senior coaching led Chris Bandel to the Darley Netball Club.

Having coached Trentham’s under-19s in the Maryborough Castlemaine District Netball League this year, Bandel was keen to extend his coaching skills.

Thinking he might be a chance to take on the B or C grade coaching gigs at the Devils, Bandel was offered the A grade role – and happily accepted.

“The Ballarat [Netball] League is a higher standard and the pressure and challenges that came with it excited me,” he said.

“I was at Trentham for two years, the first just as an umpire and this year coaching the under-17s. I also coached the under-17s girls to two domestic premierships.

“It’ll be fantastic to get back into seniors coaching.”

He replaces playing coach Renee Hulls, who has left the club after one season.

Bandel, who lives in Melton, said the reduced travel was something that also attracted him to the Darley role. He knows that he’s got no easy task in front of him, with the Devils finishing ninth, with four wins and five games outside the top six this year.

Bandel said there was likely to be a few personnel changes.

“We are starting behind the eight ball,” he said. “The challenge is to get into finals. There’s things I bring to the game which I think will help.

“My biggest thing is team culture and building the processes around that. If you can get that right, it really helps.

“My aim is to be a stronger, tighter-knit group. I’m still working on a few players to try and get them across.”

Bandel said he would focus on promoting the club’s under-17 and under-19 players into the senior side to give them experience, while still playing games for their age groups.

He’s seen several of the younger players in his role as an umpire in Bacchus Marsh and has been impressed by what he saw.

“I’m big on pushing the juniors through into seniors,” he said.

“I would rather give them a quarter here and there than having the B-grade girls sit on the bench for A-grade and not get much court time and miss out on a game completely.

“I’d rather them play full games in B-grade so they’re getting court time.”

Bandel’s wife, Bridget Bandel, has been appointed the B-grade coach.

Also a high level umpire like Chris, her role will mark a return to coaching after a few years off.

Megan Jackson has been appointed C-grade coach. Jaquie McHenry will coach the D-grade side and Courtney Barnes has been appointed the under-19 coach.