Australian coach Lisa Alexander believes the Diamonds’ successful trip to Wollongong is a vital step to growing the sport nationally and holds hope to return to the Illawarra again in the near future.
The Diamonds made light work of the Malawi Queens in a 83-34 rout on Wednesday night in the first ever international Test at WIN Entertainment Centre.
Alexander said she would love to bring the national team back for more games, provided they received support from the Wollongong community.
‘‘To grow netball in this area it is very important for us to be here and play Test matches,’’ Alexander said.
‘‘We have played in every state across the country and every territory.
‘‘It is really important that we engage and promote the game at a rural level and that is what we love to do ... play in front of our fans who are passionate about us.’’
Diamonds skipper Laura Geitz, who hails from regional Queensland, was just as supportive of bringing high-quality netball to areas outside of the capital cities.
She feels the strength of netball in regional areas shouldn’t be undervalued.
‘‘I am from a regional area growing up and I know how passionate people are about their sport in those areas,’’ Geitz said.
‘‘The hospitality you receive in areas like this is second to none. For me it is important that we continue to visit regional areas.
‘‘We want to continue to grow the sport, that is obviously why we ran a community clinic when we got here and we just want to see the support from the public coming out to these games and really getting behind us.’’
By growing support for netball Australia wide, Geitz is hopeful the elite talent can move closer to playing netball as a full-time profession.
The skipper watched on as 21-year-old Paige Hadley made her debut for the Diamonds and is optimistic for the younger generation to reap the rewards of a fully professional competition.
‘‘That is where we want the sport to go [professionalism]. We want the stadiums packed out and that is the biggest thing for us ... if all the tickets are sold and no-one can get tickets that means we are doing our job as athletes.
‘‘Putting on a show and it is literally the hottest ticket in town.
‘‘We have got a goal to be professional athletes one day, I am not sure if I will be around but hopefully Paige [Hadley] will.’’