History makers: First male team to compete at Netball Junior State Titles

Penrith’s U14 Boys Netball Team will compete at the Netball NSW Junior State Titles this weekend.
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Netball history will be made this weekend when – for the first time ever – a male team from Penrith will compete at the 2024 Netball NSW Junior State Titles.

Making the occasion even more special for the Penrith U14 Boys team is that they’ll be playing at home at Jamison Park Netball Complex.

The Penrith District Netball Association will host the Junior State Titles’ Championship Division and Division 2 tournaments from Saturday, July 6 until Monday, July 8.

Penrith U14 Boys coach Elicha Reitsma said she was thrilled when the local association agreed to enter a male team into this year’s Junior State Titles.

“When I asked Penrith if they were willing to back a team if I put one together, there was no hesitation,” she told the Weekender.

“When we held our trials, heaps of boys showed up and it was wonderful being able to choose 12 athletes for that team. It was showing the world is ready for this team.

“It’s pretty special and beautiful that we have the inaugural U14s team involved in this weekend’s Junior State Titles.”

Reitsma is no stranger to coaching male netball teams, having been in charge of the NSW Men’s U17 team this year and the Australian U19 Men’s team as assistant coach. Reitsma said she’s passionate about the male game and sees big things for its future.

“I’m passionate about netball development as a whole but that side of the sport where we are giving boys an opportunity as part of a grassroots program is phenomenal,” she said.

“These boys are not just enthusiastic, but they are netball players and being able to put together a reasonably competitive team is great for the association.

“Some of the boys play in weekend teams, while others have played netball at school – it’s a mixed variety. “

On top of her work in the male space, Reitsma is also the assistant coach of the female Panthers Premier League netball team. She said she loves coaching both genders for different reasons.

“Over 15 years of coaching at representative level, you think you’ve seen it all until you put a male athlete on the court,” Reitsma said.

“The female side is incredibly disciplined, and the skills are ingrained in them whereas the boys are an open canvas and the way they interpret movement and play is phenomenal.

“The athleticism on the court and what those bodies are able to do, take the sport to new levels.”

Seven male teams will battle in the Netball NSW Junior State Titles, with the Penrith side set to turn a lot of heads when they hit the court.

“It’s pretty special that Penrith are able to host this, it works out well for the inaugural team,” Reitsma said.

“The junior male competition has grown over the years and going from a handful of teams last year to seven this year is pretty special.”

Nathan Taylor

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.

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