The Northern Stars are the latest team to have been created under the elite netball league of the ANZ Premiership.
The Post was able to chat to Julie Hoornweg, their coach, and discuss what this means for netball in Franklin.
The Northern Stars have the honour of being netball’s latest top-level club and New Zealand’s newest sports team.
The team was created out of a new elite netball league, the ANZ Premiership, which begins their season at the end of this month.
The Stars have aligned with the five netball franchises formed in 2007 for the highly-successful trans-Tasman competition, the ANZ Championship teams—the Northern Mystics, Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, Central Pulse, Mainland Tactix and Southern Steel.
While each team has forged their reputations and built strong followings over the past decade, all eyes are now on the new sixth team.
Completing the outstanding line-up in the inaugural premiership, the Northern Stars represent the south and east of Auckland.
Captain Leana de Bruin says she's very excited to be part of the new team.
"It's great to be a part of this, and to hopefully leave a legacy."
While the team members come from different areas, she says they're gelling well as a team.
"We have a great team culture, everyone has voice," she says.
The team is based in Papakura, which is one of the fastest growing areas in the country, and it should prove to be a powerful netball team, built on strong foundations and supported by passionate fans.
South Auckland represents one of the largest communities in New Zealand. With around 534,000 people, it accounts for 11% of the country’s population and it’s still growing.
Sport plays a vital role in the South Auckland community, with netball being one of the most popular sports played in the area. There are close to 13,000 players registered to clubs, with over 2000 of them being secondary school players.
The team was selected by a panel, which included new head Coach and former silver fern, Julie Hoornweg.
"Talented athletes from within the Auckland area were canvased for their interest and availability to ensure opportunities, where possible, could be given to local talent and ensure their connection of the team to the local community. It would be fabulous if netballers from the south keep making the progression into elite netball," said Julie.
The formation of an elite netball club so close to Franklin should provide opportunities for talented, young players to be scouted. With a centre in both Pukekohe and Waiuku, the future for promising netball stars in Franklin is exciting.
"We will be on the look out for the Stars of the future so when opportunities arise to watch the next generation of netballers in action, we will be there with great anticipation," says Julie.
As the team is new, their fan base is not as strong as the other existing teams. "We still have to get fans behind us," Leana says. "We always want more fans."
The season starts for the Northern Stars with a double header in Hamilton on 26 and 27 March. The team will play Southern Steel on the evening of Sunday 26 at 6pm and then Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic on Monday evening at 7.40pm. All matches are telecast live on Sky.