After more than a decade the Sapphire Cup netball challenge is officially up and running.
The inter-club challenge used to be a regular feature on the netball calendar until around ten years ago when it was left by the wayside.
But thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers including members from the Bega, Merimbula and Bombala netball clubs the competition is back up and running.
The Sapphire Cup Challenge is a competition that was run successfully in the past involving all clubs of Sapphire Coast.
This year the challenge will be held at three locations, Bega, Merimbula and Bombala with each team competing in a round robin. Points will be recorded and the winner declared after the third challenge is complete.
There are exciting times ahead for the local netball community- Michelle Kelly, Sapphire Coast netball
Unfortunately Eden had to fold this year but Sapphire Cup coordinator Michelle Kelly said she hopes Eden will be able to participate in the challenge in the upcoming years.
“It is all about getting netball in area to grow and to hopefully attract new players,” Ms Kelly said.
“There are exciting times ahead for the local netball community, we are doing everything we can to see the sport we love grow and to see more and more young girls sign up to play.”
The first round of the Sapphire Cup Challenge was held on Sunday, June 19 in Merimbula.
There were three different age groups, 9-10s, 11-12s and an opens category but there are hopes that as the competition continues to grow there will also be 13-14 and 15-17 age groups.
Despite weather concerns throughout the week leading up to the first round of the challenge, the rain held off and made for a perfect day of play. The first game of the day reignited the old Merimbula and Bega rivalry with the Bega open women’s team coming out on top of the Merimbula opens team by just one goal.
At the end of the first day, the Bega opens and the 11-12s teams remained undefeated while Merimbula was undefeated in the 9-10 age group.
Despite not recording a win, Bombala netball president Marni Moreing said she was really proud of her girls.
“We came down here wanting to give our players some more experience and give them the opportunity to enjoy a fun day of netball,” she said. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the players and parents so that’s what it’s all about.”
The next round of the Sapphire Challenge will take place in Bombala on July 24 followed by the third and final round in Bega on Sunday, August 14.
While the challenge is between teams of the Sapphire Coast, Ms Kelly said she hopes to invite other clubs to join on competition days.
For example, they hope to invite Cooma to join in the Bombala round and Bermagui or Eurobodalla teams to join in Bega.
“It can only get stronger, we still need to iron out the creases but we’re committed and excited to make this work,” she said.
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