New era for netball with formation of Melbourne University Lightning

June 14 / 139

University of Melbourne netballer Jo Weston competes for the ball at the 2013 Australian University Games.
University of Melbourne netballer Jo Weston competes for the ball at the 2013 Australian University Games.

The University will become part of the Victorian Netball League (VNL) from the 2015 season after signing on as principal partner of the Western Lightning Netball Club.

To be known as Melbourne University Lightning, the club will field 19 & under, Division 1 and Championship teams in Victoria’s premier netball competition until at least 2018.

The announcement was made at the Lightning’s “Netball in the Commonwealth Games” function on Sunday 29 June.

The Parkville campus will become the club’s home base.

Teams competing as part of the existing Melbourne University Netball Club (MUNC) will continue, with the prospect of a more direct pathway into elite netball now available.   

The VNL is a ten-team league, and is an important part of Netball Victoria’s Talent Identification Development Program, providing pathways for developing netballers into the ANZ Championships and Australian Netball League.

Lindy Murphy, Western Lightning Club President, said the partnership was a milestone for the Lightning.

“The alliance provides both the University of Melbourne and the Club with the opportunity to forge an exciting and mutually beneficial partnership that also extends to MUNC.”

“While the relationship provides a springboard for growth for the Lightning through an existing player network, it also provides a high performance netball pathway within the University for players with the potential to play at VNL level.”

Jessica Jones, President of MUNC agreed and said the club was excited about what the future holds. 

“The club is delighted to have the opportunity to be part of the new development of Western Lightning,” she said.

“The girls are looking forward to utilizing the new resources that will be available to the club including pathways into the VNL.”

Sport Development Manager for Melbourne University Sport Rod Warnecke said the alignment solidified the University’s place as a strong supporter of elite athletes.  

“Netball is the most popular women’s sport in Australia, and with 14 University teams under MUNC competing across Melbourne, we have a strong and growing group of netballers, many of whom are ready to take the next step,” he said.

It has been a watershed month for netball at the University, with current student Jo Weston part of the Melbourne Vixens squad that claimed this year’s ANZ Championship.

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