Sam Poolman’s development program Aspire is set to expand again in its third year, with Tamworth and Wyong joining the academy family in 2019.
As well as the new joiners, Poolman confirmed all associations from 2018 including Newcastle, Charlestown, Maitland, Lakeside and more, would be returning to the program for year three.
“All our associations are back onboard either holding their own programs, or combined with others, and now we have Tamworth and Wyong coming in as newcomers which is very exciting. They were really keen to host the programs,” Poolman said.
“These two especially have been knocking on the door for sometime now, so it’s great to be able to expand in this way. It’s really exciting to be able to have a mix of new faces, and ongoing programs with all the girls I’ve worked with for years.
“I just love meeting new athletes alongside the ones that I already have known, there’s something special about identifying new talent, and also seeing those girls that you’ve been working with go through to the next level.”
Hunter’s Super Netball star also said in the program’s third year she’s beginning see the fruits of her mission statement for her home region – take their game both on and off court to the next level – after the Junior State Titles.
Netball associations across the Hunter, all of whom are now attached in some capacity to Aspire, brought home patches.
Westlakes shone with two winner’s patches, while Maitland and Port Stephens also finished first. Charlestown, Kurri Kurri, and Muswellbrook and also found major success at the junior titles with second place finishes in Baulkham Hills and Penrith.
This year, Sam is looking to “challenge” the program that she’s set-up in the first two years. While there will be teachings geared towards the newcomers in 2019, she also understands there are Aspire veterans ready to take the next step too.
“I’m always trying to challenge the program, and see how we can deliver different aspects to the players and what we need,” said the Aspire founder.
“We’re always looking to bring a perfect program for each association with a mix between on-court skills and off-court knowledge. Whatever the level of the girls that are involved, we’re trying to provide stepping stones.
“Aspire started so we could give players who are playing representative netball, or are close to it, that next step up up. These are all such passionate girls, and they just need that little push to head towards Hunter Academy of Sport selection.”
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Poolman also confirmed further expansion would be on the cards for Aspire and its development programs in the next few years, but said she wants to make sure they’re “at the right time.”
With twelve stop-offs now on the Aspire roster in its third year, the Hunter star doesn’t want to see a drop in quality from stretching the pathways too thin. Once the base has been established, however, the sky’s the limit.
“We’re a year or two away from being able to think about it again, but I’ve spoken to places like Port Macquarie and Armidale about potentially taking that step out there too. We want to make sure that we have a base, and then we’ll grow again.”
If you are interested in joining the Aspire program, you can register for updates at aspirenetball.com/interest. The application process for the program’s limited spots has not yet opened, but will be available on Monday, August 26.