North Gippsland Football-Netball League, East Gippsland Football-Netball League, Sale Netball Association and the Gippsland League were among the 64 teams competing in Netball Victoria’s Eastern Association Championships Competition in Traralgon last Sunday.

The Association Championship provides a pathway for Victorian players to further their careers in netball by offering talent identification opportunities for athletes as they continue to develop their skills and play to a high standard.

Since the Association Championship event began in 2000, it has gained significant traction across the Victorian netball community, today with more than 3600 players competing in over 350 teams.

Gippsland League claimed the Under-15 title at the Eastern Association Championships last Sunday. Photos: Contributed

North Gippsland, coached by Traci Grogan, took the title in the Under-17 division.

The Gippsland League Under-15 team claimed the Eastern Association Championships title while and the Under-17 team coached by Jo Ballinger and Bernie Dillon were runners up.

Sale Netball Association’s Under-15 team coached by Jo Ballinger finished runner-up.

The 2022 Eastern Association Championships was the first time East Gippsland Football Netball League had fielded a team in the event in over five years.

North Gippsland’s Under-15 Reserve team. Photo supplied.

Two Under-15 teams and one Under-17 team represented East Gippsland at the championships.

Lilly McQuillen, Demi Scriven, Mickey McDonough, Jessica Murphy, Ash McDonough and Emily Jansen represented Boisdale-Briagolong Football-Netball Club in the East Gippsland team.

Emily Johnston was the sole representative for the Stratford Football-Netball Club.

GippSport program coordinator and Under-15 Championship team coach Yvonne Porter explained it had been a tough few years for East Gippsland Netball.

East Gippsland’s Under-15 Reserve team. Photo supplied.

“The competition didn’t run the last two years, 2020 and 2021, like many other events as a result of COVID,” Porter said.

“Before that it was a combination of lack of awareness of the event and the opportunity it provides players, but also a change in priorities with the fires and such.”

Following a trial session earlier this year, the EGFNL selected 11 girls to represent each team at the Association Championships Qualifying Competition in Traralgon.

Unfortunately, East Gippsland could only field teams of eight on Sunday as several players withdrew at the last minute due to illness.

Despite the disruption in numbers, the girls from East Gippsland showed up in the bitterly cold, wet and windy conditions and put in a valiant effort.

East Gippsland’s Under-17 Championship team. Photo supplied.

“It was a challenging day,” Porter said.

“We only had two wins the entire day in the Under-17s.

“The teams competed in matches consisting of two, eight-minute halves with a straight swap at half-time, and two minutes between rounds which was a format some of the athletes had never experienced before.

“It really was a hard day on the scoreboard, but the girls all understood why we were there and that what we wanted was to get players seen.”

The 2022 Eastern Association Championships was the first step in recreating a presence for EGFNL athletes and umpires.

GippSport will work alongside the East Gippsland Football Netball League to further develop the Association Championships program and provide more players with the opportunity to compete in the pathway program where their skills and talent can be seen.