New Panthers Opens team coach Moira Gaha has declared playing Finals Netball a real possibility after a strong pre-season.
With the 2022 Netball NSW Premier League season set to get underway next Wednesday night at Sydney Olympic Park, Panthers Netball is confident of finally making some noise in the competition this season after several lean years.
Speaking with the Weekender, Gaha said her Opens team have one goal in mind and that’s making Finals.
“We absolutely have the capacity to make Finals. We’ve had some good pre-season games and really held our own,” she said.
“We absolutely have the belief and expectation that Finals are something we should be striving for – that’s our main goal. And then we have smaller goals like constant improvement, doing the basics well and sticking to game plans. If we do that, the results will take care of themselves.”
It will be Gaha’s first year at the helm of the Panthers Opens team after coaching the franchise’s U23s team the past two seasons.
Gaha said she’s very grateful to be part of the club that likes to promote from within.
“I came to Panthers after working on an Opens team for three years at another club, but the U23s role was a wonderful opportunity,” she said.
“Panthers has the same philosophy as me, ‘build from home grown’, and then recruit people that have that skill and passion from other areas. It’s always nice to see people promoted, and we’ve got a few girls in our Opens team this season that have come through our pathway in the last couple of years.”
The Panthers Opens side has stayed fairly stable, with just a few new players added to the mix from last year’s squad. After the 2021 season was axed after 13 rounds due to lockdown, Gaha said her players were “itching” to get on the court again.
“The girls are just so keen and are working so hard. They are building a really strong connection pretty early, and that’s always a great sign as coach,” she said.
“I saw improvement across both U23s and Opens last year and we’re just setting out to build on that because we couldn’t have a full season.
“We want to pick up where we left off and go onwards and upwards from there.”
Both Panthers Netball teams will take on North Shore United in the opening round.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.