Adelaide Thunderbirds Talent Academy to train 80 teenage athletes

KI STAR: Adelaide Thunderbirds star Georgie Horjus came up through the Kangaroo Island juniors and is pictured with 15&U Western District top goal scorers Belle, Raemi and Grace. Photo: Maggie's Photography
KI STAR: Adelaide Thunderbirds star Georgie Horjus came up through the Kangaroo Island juniors and is pictured with 15&U Western District top goal scorers Belle, Raemi and Grace. Photo: Maggie's Photography

Netball SA will pilot the Adelaide Thunderbirds Talent Academy in 2022, to further strengthen South Australia's pathway from grassroots netball to the elite level.

Each year, about 80 athletes aged between 14-16 years, including from around regional SA, will be selected take part in the new program.

They will train together five times a year, including two sessions at Netball SA Stadium, with the program also involving Thunderbird specialist coaching and access to Thunderbird players.

The Adelaide Thunderbirds Talent Academy will build upon the long-standing Netball SA academy program and has been designed to allow talent-identified athletes, coaches, and umpires to better connect with the Thunderbirds.

Four of South Australia's most experienced coaches will lead the Talent Academy, with Brian Lines, Kirsty Leonard-Down, Lee-Anne Cummins and Judy Greenwood on board.

They will be supported by specialist high performance coaches as well as a number assistant coaches. These positions will be opened for applications, creating development opportunities for coaches from across the state.

Netball SA CEO Bronwyn Klei said the Adelaide Thunderbirds Talent Academy was an exciting development, built around connecting aspiring South Australian netballers with their local role models.

"In South Australia, we've long had a strong, successful elite pathway - we're currently the national champions at 15U, 17U and 19U level - but to stay ahead we have to keep innovating, and we believe this new structure will take what's good and make it even better," Ms Klei said.

"By reinventing the program to better connect with the Adelaide Thunderbirds, we're giving our athletes, coaches and umpires a stronger link to the best netball competition in the world, Suncorp Super Netball.

"We're also thrilled to have the wealth of knowledge that our coaching staff bring to this program and have full confidence in their ability to prepare our future netball stars for the elite level."

The current Academy Program was launched 20 years ago and underwent its last significant change in 2014.