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Author: Craig Eardley

The Greater expands support for netball as season starts.

Players from this year’s Greater Building Society Championships, including last year’s top three teams, will again face off at the media launch of the Newcastle netball season at National Park (Wednesday March 25 at 1pm).

Last year’s winning team Souths 1 will be represented by Eliza Lewis. Runner up Bilbie Dann (now Forsythes Business) will be represented by Karlie Robards, who will again captain her side. Shooter Emma Prince (nee Andrews, she was married on March 21) is representing third place getters Bilbie Dan. 

The Junction Hotel club has two teams in this year’s competition – Stella and Yoga Loft. Caitlin Lobston and Veronica Smith (who both play for Yoga Loft will be represented the club. Maryville Tavern will be represented by Rachel Gardner.

Newcastle Netball president Adele (Dell) Saunders says the Newcastle A Grade competition (Greater Building Society Championships) is now in its 63rd year. Mrs Saunders says it had been played for a number of years prior to 1953 under the auspices of the YMCA, making it the oldest netball competition in the Hunter and one of the oldest in NSW.

She says the 2013 and 2014 winner of the Lois and Nola Green Medal (former Australian players) for the best and fairest player, Forsythes Business’ Sophie Buckley, is again playing.  A number of Ex Jaeger’s are again playing this year with Tiffany Lincoln (Gilmour) and Narelle Eather playing for Souths 1 and Lara Cranfield (Welham), Danielle Harvey and Katie Robinson (Bradstock) playing for Maryville Tavern.  Emma Prince’s sister and Matilda squad member Tara Andrews will also be playing a few games this year for Bilbie Dan.

“The Greater Building Society Championships is always recognised as the top netball competition in the Hunter Region and this year promises to be as tough a battle as any year,” Mrs Saunders says.

Greater Building Society CEO Scott Morgan says the Greater has been supporting grass roots netball in Newcastle for decades. Mr Morgan said it was expanding its support for the sport. He says the Greater is making a $150,000 investment to support netball across NSW and the Gold Coast, with around $50,000 being spent in the Hunter.

“We’re boosting our support for netball at a grass roots level because it doesn’t get the same funding and attention as some other sports yet it is played by so many women in our community,”  Mr Morgan says.

“As a customer owned banking organisation, we give back to the organisations and institutions that are important to our customers and the success of our community,” he says.

Mrs Saunders is in her 39th year as president and her 60th year as a member of the executive of the Newcastle Netball Association having served as secretary, vice president or president every year since 1955.  Greater Building Society CEO Scott Morgan presented Mrs Saunders will a small gift on behalf of the Greater and the Newcastle netball community to commemorate her service to the sport.

The competition starts on Saturday March 28. The teams will play each other twice before the finals series kicks off on August 15. A total of 4,120 women and girls will play in Newcastle netball this season. Of those 2,840 will play in aged divisions from under 7 to under 21.

Media information: Craig Eardley (Greater) on 0437477493.