Senior rep tourney fills the gap

Senior representative netball is on its way back.

A South Island tournament will be hosted in Dunedin next month.

The tournament - a joint venture between Netball South and Netball Mainland - offers a step between the club and Beko League levels.

It will be held from September 27 to 29 at the Edgar Centre and include teams from centres throughout both zones.

Players of 20 years and over are eligible and teams can field either one ANZ Premiership player and a Beko League player, or two Beko League players.

Netball South performance manager Jo Morrison said it was an important competition for later development.

''Everyone develops at different rates and the current competition structure limits the opportunities for players over the age of 20 years old.

''This is a fantastic opportunity to give those late-bloomers a chance to develop and shine.''

That was something Netball South and Southern Steel CEO Lana Winders said had become a concern.

Several centres in the zones had identified the lack of development opportunities once players left the age groups.

''A gap in the performance pathway has emerged in recent years,'' Winders said.

''Those players over the age of 20, unable to crack into the Beko team, found themselves with no representative team to strive for.

''It has had repercussions throughout the netball system. It became incredibly difficult for older players to display their talents in anything other than a club game, which can be discouraging.

''They deserve a chance to showcase their talent and challenge themselves in higher-intensity competitions.''

Netball Mainland performance manager Jen Hooper added it would not just be the players that would benefit.

It also provided opportunities for coaches, managers and umpires.

The tournament will be held annually, rotating between venues in the two zones.

It fills a void that has been left in recent years by the now defunct NPC competition.

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