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Kelpies Coup

Stewart re-commits for Kelpies after leading the men’s national side through its breakthrough era, and will be joined by SSN great Julie Fitzgerald.

Current Kelpies coach Nerida Stewart has signed for a further 4 years, committing to the men’s national program after leading her team’s breakthrough into mainstream.  Her signing is the critical first step as AMMNA launches its next phase of high performance growth as a strategic focus.

With two back to back Trans Tasman Cup wins, the coach affectionately known as Ned was keenly pursued by AMMNA as she also becomes a fixture in the Suncorp Super Netball coaching fraternity.

International Director for AMMNA Clare McCabe led the re-recruitment of Stewart, highlighting continuity of success as a key ingredient in AMMNAs plans for international expansion.

“Ned developed an elite program that resulted in the type of netball global fans are now flocking to see.  It is important to us as an organization to have a progressive program that produces entertainment grade netball and world class athletes, and that is exactly what she has delivered.” McCabe said.

Stewart, an ex Swifts franchise player, has made the move from Fever to Giants this year to be closer to home.  The Central Coast mother of five and former NSWIS coach has a diverse coaching schedule for season 2024, a dual-role she states brings her “more weapons” as a coach in supporting players to grow their game.

“I’m really fortunate the seasons for SSN and Kelpies don’t collide, so both programs get my full focus. A full year calendar is perfect for me, I can’t get enough of this sport and the people involved, and the switching between the categories really does give me new ideas to implement on both sides of the game”, Stewart said.

Stewart had masterminded the Kelpies trophy hauls in recent years, building an all-conquering national team that is currently the global benchmark.

“We have a growing list of high calibre coaches in the pathway that are producing more and more international-ready athletes.  The depth is the best it’s ever been, so our HP team are gelling this together into a national brand of netball that we are now known for.” Stewart said.

Asked what next for the Kelpies program to keep it as the global benchmark, Stewart previewed an expansion of international programs to channel more talent identified players into experiences that test them at that level.

“The main ingredient for getting better as an overall program is performance pressure, and having a raft of players knocking on the selection door with conditioning and match play results that are of an international standard.  Depth creates this pressure, and having our next tier of athletes tested in kelpies feeder programs will be a focus for me and my team as we plan for long term sustained success in the program” Stewart said.

“That and a hell of a lot of fun.  Enjoyment for the elite environment has to balance out all that pressure so when our best athletes make it, they have a life-long memorable experience to take home and shape who they are as people.” Stewart added.

Stewart will be joined by Giants Head Coach Julie Fitzgerald, in a massive coup for the men’s category.  Fitzgerald is one of the games most decorated elite level coaches, and was targeted as a proven builder of champions in the women’s game.

“To have Julie accept our approach to support Ned grow the elite calibre of our program is as humbling as it is exciting.  Julie has coached some of the world’s greatest netballers in their formative years, and that is the impact we know she can bring to the men’s game as it builds.” McCabe said.

Kelpies programming will be released in coming months, with first release being selection camp to be scheduled after this Easter National Championships where athletes are shortlisted.


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