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Hills District Neball 50th Anniversary

08 August 2018


Mr MATT KEAN (Hornsby—Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation) (17:47): Today I pay tribute to the Hills District Netball Association, which this year celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. With a strong group of dedicated volunteers and hundreds of registered players, Hills, as it is more affectionately known, is one of the great sporting groups in New South Wales. Every Friday night and Saturday morning hundreds of players descend on Pennant Hills netball courts to be part of a game they love. Hills is made up of 20 clubs, covering an area from North Ryde to Berowra. Girls can start playing from the age of five, and many play right through to their senior years. I feel as though I grew up on the sidelines at Hills netball watching my sister play junior netball in the competition.

It was Mr Edgar Dill, headmaster of Beecroft Primary School, who in 1958 saw the need for a Saturday morning sport for girls in the area. Supported by the local Rotary club, teams from schools between Cheltenham and Normanhurst started a competition. Originally the competition included teams from Beecroft Sports Club and from Cheltenham, Castle Hill, Hornsby and Asquith high schools. It grew in popularity and by 1966 it included teams from Pennant Hills and Thornleigh sports clubs and from Mount St Benedict and Pennant Hills high schools. In 1968 the Hills District Netball Association was born, although back then it was called women's basket ball. Run by President Mrs Margaret Waterman, the committee had the task of building the organisation from the ground up, something this dedicated group of volunteers did not shy away from. 

The biggest issue at the time was the location of courts as they were forced to play on 20 courts spread across multiple locations. The committee lobbied Hornsby Council and 14 courts were included in the construction of Pennant Hills Sports Centre. Hills has forged an impressive path over the years. In 1975 it was the first to broadcast a game live on television, commentated by Barbara Wood and Jeanette Love—an impressive thumbs up to the local competition. Lights were installed on 14 of the courts in 1979, enabling the association to run night competitions. This is continued today, with the under 8 and under 9 competitions held on a Friday night. 

In 1989 the construction of the administrative building saw the Hills District committee have a home. Hills has seen the rise of many representative players, most notably Catherine Cox who played more than 100 games for Australia. She first started at 11 years old at Hills District and I know there are many young girls who aspire to follow in her esteemed footsteps. In 2001 they officially opened the all-weather indoor court. It was here that I recently attended the official fiftieth birthday brunch. This brought together the dedicated Hills committee members past and present who have served the association for the last 50 years. 

I will make mention of the life members who have given so much to netball and the community: Edna Wardrop, Marie Bowrey, the great Lyn Burgess, Ruth Binns, Anne Coulton, Bev Mann, Lisette Smith, Vicki Davis, a great lady and a great friend, and Lesley Milner. They have gone above and beyond for the organisation. I thank each of these remarkable ladies for their dedicated service not only to netball but also to the broader community. The current committee is headed by president Jennie Thompson, who has done a remarkable job running the association and organising the fiftieth birthday celebrations. The committee includes vice president Ruth Bowman, treasurer Tracy McClenaghan, secretary Doug MacColl, and senior registrar the great Clare Ashpole, assisted by her sister Sally Knight. 

Clare has been part of Thornleigh netball for close to 40 years. Last year I was pleased to award her and her husband, Roy, the Hornsby Community Service Award in recognition of their remarkable service to the community. Also on the committee is junior registrar Phillip Wheeler, senior umpire convenor Lisette Smith, junior umpire convenor Lisa Robertson, and night competition co-coordinator Fran Macdonald. I thank them for their service and for ensuring that everyone has a great time when they play at Hills netball. At the recent fiftieth birthday celebrations I was pleased to assist in presenting the volunteer long service awards to Lesley Milner and Lyn Burgess, who still remain heavily involved with the association. Edna Wardrop was on hand to cut the cake. Edna is the oldest surviving president for Hills.

I take this opportunity to thank every volunteer who has put in time and effort to ensure the success of this great association. I was pleased to do my bit to assist with sports grants in 2016 and 2017. This enabled the association to upgrade and resurface a number of its courts. It is important to the Hills that everyone gets a chance to be a part of the wonderful game of netball. The All Star Team is open to participants aged over eight years old who have an intellectual disability. They play on the indoor court on Friday nights and have a whole heap of fun. 

Hills recently had some success at the 2018 State Age Championships. This is a competition between associations from all over the State. The Hills under 13 representative squad finished runners-up, losing just three out of 16 games. The team came seventh last year and coach Kim Hoskings and assistant coaches Gen Seed and Brooke Nichol were extremely proud of this recent result. Congratulations to Hills District Netball Association on 50 years of bringing netball to our community and providing a wonderful place for young people to grow and develop.