BNC are welcoming the new three-tier Greater Open league with open arms.

BNC Whanau has always prided themselves on their “strong, hard” game, returning star Kahlia Rocco says, but more than that the club will always follow its “family first” ethos that lies at the core of every single one of their teams.

That’s a mentality the Greater Open teams are looking to carry into the new-look Club Series this year, as Newcastle Netball returns for a shortened 2020 season post-Covid-19 lockdown. It’s the perfect breeding ground for a “growth year” for the girls in dark green and black, Rocco told the Chronicle during preseason.

“BNC has always prided itself with giving our juniors opportunities to step up, and even give our young stars chances to play in the higher grades before some of the other clubs might have given them the tick,” Rocco said.

“It’s always been a key part of our club… so this three-team system is an excellent opportunity for us. This year will give us a great growth year, we have some really exciting juniors coming through the ranks. It’s got us all bubbling with excitement.”

ReadNewcastle Netball delay 2020 start date again due to COVID concerns

Two BNC graduates in recent times, Dakota Thomas and Victoria Aoake, both stand as testaments to what the club can achieve when focusing on juniors, Rocco added. Even better, Aoake has been given the green light to return again in 2020 to “help give back to the club with training and coaching for the next generation.”

Kahlia Rocco confirms Victoria Aoake will join BNC for the 2020 season.
NSW Premier League star Victoria Aoake has been granted a release to link up with her Newcastle team BNC Whanau for the shortened 2020 Championship.

“Tori will be back, we managed to score the release for her to play, so that’s really exciting for us for this season,” Rocco said. Aoake, who has been involved in most BNC campaigns in the Greater Open Championship, will take on a coach-player role.

“Players like Victoria, and Dakota, they were babies at our club. I remember playing alongside them when they were still coming up. For them to be able to come back and lend a hand with everything, and be involved with more juniors coming through, that’s a testament to our family-first ethos.”

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Developing juniors is key, Rocco said, but everyone at BNC loves to win as well. The 2020 season has a bit of a different feel to it — ten rounds, now squeezed to nine due to a Covid scare last weekend, and no finals — but the team still wants to win.

BNC Whanau are fully embracing their “darkhorse” persona this year, says Kahlia Rocco.

The BNC star, who herself returned from a two-year stint in the UK ahead of this shortened Newcastle Netball season, says the club have also built a reputation for “coming from deep” in the championship, and will always be a finals darkhorse.

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“We always break late, we’re really good from coming out of nowhere… the underdogs so they say,” she laughed. “It does give us some grey hairs though! You just never know what we’re going to bring on the day, so we can keep everyone guessing.”

BNC kick-start their “darkhorse” run this weekend against West Leagues Balance 1. The opening round of the Championship, which would have seen the ladies in black and green face University, has officially been chalked.

BNC Whanau 2020 fixtures

  • Round 1: West Leagues Balance 1, Court 5 @ 2.25pm, August 1
  • Round 2: Souths Lions, Court 5 @ 2.25pm, August 8
  • Round 3: Nova Thunder, Court 8 @ 3.45pm, August 15
  • Round 4: Kotara South Lions, Court 6 @ 2.25pm, August 22
  • Round 5: Junction Stella, Court 6 @ 3.45pm, August 29
  • Round 6: Inner Glow, Court 5 @ 2.25pm, September 5
  • Round 7: Souths Lions, Court 8 @ 3.45pm, September 12
  • Round 8: University of Newcastle, Court 9 @ 3.45pm, September 19
  • Round 9: West Leagues Balance 1, Court 5 @ 2.25pm, September 26