New team . . . Excelsior Blues player Caidee Pennycook (left) and committee member Aleisha Lucas are looking forward to rebuilding the club this year. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Excelsior is rebuilding its netball community.

Six years ago the Oamaru sports club had five netball teams, but in recent years numbers had dwindled.

While the club still had one team, playing in North Otago Netball’s premier C grade, formerly known as 1.3, this season Excelsior is looking to enter a new team in premier B.

Aleisha Lucas joined the Excelsior committee this year to help out and the thought of creating a new netball team ‘‘lingered’’. After putting the feelers out for interest, 10 players put their hands up and Excelsior Blue was formed.

Many of the players’ partners played rugby for Excelsior, and it was a good chance to bring different sectors of the club together, Lucas said.

‘‘The goal was to rebuild the netball community at Excelsior and strengthen the club but also it’s a good chance to involve partners from the rugby team to come along and come on board as well,’’ she said.

Several players including Lucas, Caidee Pennycook, Kendall McBride and Emma Slater all played for Maheno or Valley in premier A, previously known as 1.1, last year. Other players had played in lower grades or were getting back into netball this year.

Lucas hoped Excelsior Blue would fit in premier B, previously 1.2.

‘‘We’ll probably be competitive but we’ll still be really social,’’ she said.

‘‘I think that’s another thing about making a netball team is to be a lot more fun and social.’’

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major effect on the entire sporting sector, especially the social connection of sport, and Lucas said by strengthening Excelsior netball, bringing the rugby players’ partners in and ‘‘your mates all being together’’ in one club would help increase the social side.

Other netball clubs had been supportive of Excelsior adding another team to the competition.

‘‘[Excelsior] used to have five teams so they were like a big club. I think it’s definitely good to get the old Blues back out there.’’

The team was grateful for the strong support and sponsorship it had already received from the community, Lucas said.

The team is looking for more players for the upcoming season, and anybody interested could message the Excelsior Rugby Club Facebook page, or contact Lucas on 027 305-5835.