There’s a new netball team on the block and their name is the Northern Stars.
For many years the ANZ Premiership has been showing talent from all over New Zealand as netball teams face off against each other, but now South Auckland has a team to call their own.
Captained by former Silver Fern Leana de Bruin, the team are ready to be put to the test on the court.
“Leading a new team is exciting,” Leana says about the new role. “There is lots of potential in this team. It will be about seeing how we progress as a team and improve each week.”
After retiring from the international game, Leana wanted to come back on board in the national competition.
“I wasn’t ready to give it all up,” she says.
The team have been training and bonding in the lead up to the ANZ Premiership.
“We’ve got a great bunch of girls, and great coaching staff.”
Northern Stars coach, Australian Julie Hoornweg has coached in Australia and Fiji and now brings her expertise to this team.
“I love Julie’s intensity. She makes sure we put in the hard yards,” Leana says.
While the team is full of great players, there are two Leana says to keep watch of. “Kayla Cullen- she’s a freaky athlete who excels in all areas,” Leana says. “Also Malia Vaka, she’s a phenomenal athlete.”
Most of the players are from around Auckland, which allows them to really connect with their growing fan base.
“We have been getting out and about in the community, and holding coaching sessions. We’re hoping to do more,” Leana says.
They also have a wide demographic with fans across all ages and all areas throughout Counties Manukau. This South Auckland based team gives netball fans the chance to support a team closer to home and different to west-Auckland Mystics.
“We’re all excited,” she says about being part of the inaugural team, “It’s a different challenge.”
Leana reiterates the point that everyone has a voice. “All the players have input of what we want to be like. There’s no hierarchy, we’re all on the same level.”
The Northern Stars are based at the High Wire Charitable Trust in Papakura. “It’s nice and new. We have our own gym and team room. It’s all ours. We’re very lucky,” she says.
Their home games will be played at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau.
Leana was captain of the Waikato Bay of Plenty side last year. “We play each team three times throughout the season, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities.”
The Northern Stars played the Southern Steel on Sunday 26 March and the Waikato BOP Magic yesterday, Monday 27 March.
Their next game is in Christchurch on Sunday 2 April against the Mainland Tactix.