AS a coach of premiership winning sides and representative outfits Jodie Ryan is a good judge of netball talent, so it’s a good sign for the sport in Bathurst that she likes what she currently sees.
After some time away from the sport, Ryan was lured back into a coaching this season by A grade outfit LJ Hooker Hawks.
It joined Collegians Mystified in making the step up from A reserve grade.
While Collegians, who won the 2016 A reserve grand final, is currently leading A grade, the Hawks occupy fourth.
Ryan thinks is pleasing sign to see how her side, as well as the likes of the newly formed Mana Wasps (fifth), have developed over the course of the season thus far.
She also predicts it will make for an even better A grade competition next year.
“The girls that are in the top tier, those top teams, particularly Collegians, those girls are young girls that play at a competitive level. They are playing representative netball, they are playing for their schools, they are playing State League, they’ve got their finger on the pulse 12 months of the year basically,” Ryan said.
“It is a massive thing for these girls who have come up to get their heads around the pace of the game.
“The top two teams are very much standouts, top three even, and we come a long way behind. But I think in another 12 months, it will be a different comp next year when everyone has had a bit of a taste of A grade. It will be a lot closer.”
Having a hotly contested A grade competition will in turn help Bathurst’s representative sides continue their improvement.
Ryan said it will also help to attract more people to the sport and provide a good pathway for developing juniors.
“It's great sport, most people who try it always stick with it. I've been involved with netball in Bathurst for over 30 years and it just keeps growing ... we'd just love to see more coaches come down and put their hand up and help out,” she said.
“If we can keep that going and keep more people coming in an encourage them, then netball is going to keep growing.”