Our association provides competitive and social netball opportunities for all participants who want to play, umpire or coach, and welcome all ages and levels of experience and ability.
Our association values friendship, community spirit, teamwork and respect to all members – from our volunteers to our umpires and parents.
Our Volunteers and Life Members are active and engaged members in our organisation, and we are grateful and thankful for their outstanding contributions to the development of netball with us. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to do what we do!
HISTORY OF BLACKTOWN CITY NETBALL ASSOCIATION INC
The birth of a ball game in Blacktown started on 22nd April 1967. A public meeting was held at the tiny Boy Scout’s Hall, Lalor Park, as a result of 500 leaflets being distributed amongst the primary school girls in the Lalor Park area.
The meeting was called to discuss the possibility of beginning some basket ball (later to be known as netball) teams in Lalor Park. The schools represented at the meeting were St.Bernadettes, Vardy’s Rd, Lalor Park, Seven Hills West, Lynwood Park and Blacktown North.
The hall could seat about 50 people and the area around had to accommodate the several hundred who attended. In those short hours on that unforgettable day an executive committee was elected and some schools were organised into the first district council and The Lalor Park Junior Basket Ball Association was born. During the next month, the district executive of five and two ladies from each of the clubs set about teaching the children to catch, throw, keep feet still, aim and shoot for goal, how to umpire, learning all the time from the six rule books we had acquired – in short, the writing was on the wall already, the girls of Blacktown were ready to enter into the vast netball empire of N.S.W. with a spirit which would be undaunted through the years and the defeats to come.
1967 proved to be a year of hard work, tears and heartaches over weeks on end of rain, and of untold joy. Looking back, it had been great and we vowed that the teething problems encountered would be classified “invaluable experience”. During the years since all who participated have declared they wouldn’t have missed it for anything! It will be forever implanted in their memories, as their names will be forever engraved in the history of the Blacktown and District Netball Association. The foundation president was Peggy Chase and secretary Lorna Robertson.
Blacktown had become part of the vast Western urban expansion – both public and private housing – and the lack of sporting organisations and facilities for recreation led to the development of the then, Women’s Basket Ball Association.
No doubt all districts were faced with the same problems – hundreds of young children – and a local council unprepared for such expansion, with enthusiastic parents clamouring with a demand for recreation areas. Fortunately for Lalor Park and Blacktown, Joan Sookee – mother of four daughters – and Mavis Campbell, both blessed with exceptional organising skills, took on the challenge of organising the municipality’s girls and invited them to learn and enjoy the skills of basket ball.
The first playing areas were in a fairly undeveloped oval in Lalor Park, Sheila Kitchingham recalls the efforts of many of these ladies, when she accepted an invitation to their games and to her surprise, keen coaches and umpires were in action with the rule book in hand! Sheila went on to become president and long serving executive member, as well as a successful representative coach and a N.S.W. State coach. During this period 1976-86 Roma Edgerton served as association secretary.
Joan and Mavis were inundated with members, and Joan’s dedication led her to stand, successfully for local government, where, with the support of Ald. Bill Mills, plans for permanent playing fields were eventually approved by Council. This is no doubt, the same story for all expanding associations; however, how many mums had the dedication to become aldermen? Ald. Sookee not only had the interests of basket ball on her “plate”, but the needs of all sporting bodies in her ward, became the subjects of her cause. Notwithstanding, the girls of local school clubs became dedicated basket ballers. Founding clubs – Lynwood Park Rebels, Seven Hills West, Vardy’s Road and St. Bernadettes had the dominant teams but were soon followed by Blacktown North, Blacktown West, Blacktown Central, Shamrocks and Mt. Druitt Sports Club, among many which heralded the grand expansion and realisation that eight courts in Wheeler Street, Lalor Park would not provide for the projected populations of basket ball players!
Raffles, kiosk sales (from a caravan), walkathons, “chook” raffles all became a part of life for all members. In addition to fundraising, Joan guided the training of coaches and umpiring. 1968 minutes record the success of their efforts with discussion and recommendation of a suitable representative uniform, organisation of transport for the team to participate in the N.S.W. State Age Championships on 7 July 1968. Policy for representative selection appears to have been set from this time.
Blacktown Council was no doubt totally unprepared for Blacktown basket ballers’ next assault on the establishment. From a motion proposed by the much respected Mrs. Pauline Wilson and the support of Mrs. Audrey Peterson, local Police and Council were approached to approve an “opening day march” through Blacktown to the playing fields. Authorities approved and Saturday morning traffic and commerce were treated to the best publicity basket ball could have wished for its cause! Spectacular and most colourful, the entire membership marched from the Civic Centre led by a brass band! The administration was getting near to its goal of adequate courts and a satisfactory administration centre and dominant clubs were providing talented and dedicated players for representative netball. Among the up-and-coming were players such as Michelle Collyer (nee Eldred) and Keeley Devery. Young though they were, their potential was apparent to district selectors. Both achieved Australian representation, Michelle 1977-78 and Keeley in the 80s.
As the population in the Blacktown area became younger, so did the age of players. Indeed, many older members vow and declare that Lethbridge Park Ravens fielded the same team in the eight year old competition for four years! Playing was not the only interest. Umpiring was firmly encouraged by convenors of exceptional ability. Mesdames Heather Glover, Ann Inskip and Shirley Cater, to name a few and Blacktown can now boast no fewer than five “As” from its ranks. The present convenor, Mrs Sandra Marks, is not only one of this elite group but also an example of a player giving so much back to her district.
Policies introduced, particularly under the guidance of Sheila Kitchingham, were formulated to provide a 75% payment towards expenses to members who achieve positions at State level, be it player, coach, umpire or official. Fostering netball was not just confined to Blacktown. Among our affiliated clubs was one, Baulkham Hills Club and it is with pride that it is on record that Blacktown was instrumental in getting this now development of a sub-group and with the help of Mrs Pat Weston, the many “bumps” were smoothed over and Mt.Druitt Netball Association was subsequently formed. From one small group of school girls, formed in 1967, three district associations are now in existence.
As clubs expanded, dominating teams came from Beresfords, Wenty Waratahs and Pendle Hill to join the old brigade and by 1978 a State champion team was fielded. This outstanding team was coached by Maureen Bastock, a young woman who was a dedicated as her players in their efforts to achieve first place. As well as the previously mentioned two Australian representatives, Karen Eather, Brenda Sims, Gina Borazio, Gemma Riordon and Nadja Steffensen were selected in N.S.W. teams, while Sheila Kitchingham and Sandra Dann have coached and Shirley Cater managed various N.S.W. representative teams.
Astute financial management was provided by a long line of treasurers, thus ensuring that the dollar-for-dollar base could be met by the association, as well as commitments to N.S.W.N.A. Ltd and A.A.N.A. Programmes for coaching clinics and umpire coaching days are eagerly anticipated by members, as well as the recently introduced “Princess” Cabaret, all sponsored by the association. Hail the treasurer! Late nights organising teams, fixtures and attending meetings are quickly forgotten and the great times and memories of bus trips, championships and carnivals, rain or shine are part of the great fellowship of netball in Blacktown.
It was with pride that the president and immediate past-treasurer announced at the annual general meeting in November 1987 the funds were set aside to meet the cost of an $80,000 complex to be completed for the Bicentenary Year. The association’s funds were augmented by a $38,000 grant from the Department of Sport and Recreation and three asphalt courts and covered seating were duly constructed.
Two awards have been created for presentation annually: the “Joan Sookee Award” - for outstanding service to netball in the Blacktown area. The association established a scholarship fund to enable two junior players to be selected each year to attend the N.S.W. Talented Players’ Camp. The fund was set up to perpetuate the memory of Mrs Pauline Wilson who passed away during the 1986 winter season and who will be remembered with sincere appreciation and deep affection for almost 20 years of dedicated service to netball.
Life membership has been bestowed upon: Mavis Campbell, Joan Sookee, Val Brunker, Heather Glover, Betty Buckland, Hazel Eagleton, Shirley Cater, Sheila Kitchingham, Jenny Connor, Anne Inskip, Shirley O’Malveney, Sandra Marks, R. Edgerton, K. Cater, Margaret Eagleton, Dennis Cummings, Margaret Bevan, Lyn Buchanan, Sonja Hyde, Vicki Turner, Maryanne Rosen, Annette Mainsbridge, Kathy Booth, Karen Szczerbanik & Heather Smith
Joan Sookee awards has been bestowed upon: H. Schenau, P. Wilson, B. Keith, V. Sanders, R. Edgerton, A. Inskip, R. Griffiths, L. Maxwell, S. Marks, G. Scorer, L. Turner, L. Xuereb, K. Donnelly, S. Hill, I Wright, V. Turner, K. Booth, P. Bromfield, A. Mainsbridge, K. Myers, K. Dixon, H. Smith, J. Turner, M. Rosen, L. Buchanan, L. Mandich, K. Barnwell, V. Mortimer, R. Fitzgerald, E. Small, R. Xuereb, E. Stroud, J. Carling, L. Marshall, J. Webster, K. Szczerbanik (Beal) G. Tuttlebee, S. Burgess, D. McKinnon, S. Baker, A. Spilsted, C. McMillan, D. Kegg, D. Wicks, K. Read
Technical Services Manager
Senior Representative Co-ordinator
Junior Representative Co-ordinator
High Performance Manager