North Otago netball fans will be in heaven this weekend.
The Southern Steel squad is coming to Oamaru for a jam-packed schedule of training, playing, coaching and community interaction.
A full-strength squad, including four Silver Ferns, will spend three days in the town as a key part of the build-up to the relaunched ANZ Premiership.
The schedule offers North Otago fans ample opportunities to see some of their heroes in action.
On Saturday, there is a training session at the Waitaki Community Recreation Centre between 1pm and 3pm, open to the public.
That is followed by a skills session with years 9 to 13 local players between 4pm and 6pm.
On Sunday, the Steel plays a full game against Netball South’s Beko League team starting at 10am, and from 1pm to 3pm, there is a years 1 to 8 netball festival and a coaching workshop with coaches Reinga Bloxham and Lauren Piebenga.
Players will visit St Joseph’s, Fenwick, Ardgowan and Oamaru Intermediate schools on Monday from 9.30am to 11.30am.
The squad includes two Oamaru-educated players: Silver Ferns defender Jane Watson, and rookie shooter Jennifer O’Connell.
Bloxham said the Steel squad was excited to head to North Otago.
“Two of our players in particular – Jane and Jen – have a real connection with the region and we are all looking forward to spending quality time there, as we know what an enthusiastic and supportive netball hub it is,” she said.
“The North Otago Netball Centre has been instrumental in making this a reality and it will be fantastic for us to work with local players and coaches at the various workshops they’ve initiated and also visit local schools. We have a real focus on connecting with our Steel community so our training sessions are also open for people to come and watch the players in action.
“Team camps like this are so vital as we prepare for the ANZ Premiership campaign ahead. It gives us a chance to not only fine-tune our dynamics on the court, but also our team culture away from it, which is really important to balance the demands of a high-performance sporting environment.
“And we now have our four Silver Ferns back from their tour to the UK, so it will be great to finally have our whole squad in the same place.”