Change putting code in the zone

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor

What next for Karen Greenslade?

Anyone who can find a common denominator in netball in Hawke's Bay should be handed the dossier to what the city fathers in the province need to do to amalgamate the Hastings and Napier councils.

"I will stand for mayor next," a debonair Greenslade says as the code undergoes a renaissance to bring the four major centres together by the end of November under the new brand name of "Hawke's Bay Netball".

Jocularity aside, when the dust settles Greenslade, who assumed the mantle of the Eastern Netball regional manager, will have fallen on her sword for the prosperity of the province as a netball entity.

"Yes, I will become redundant but I would like to be involved in some way. I suppose I will always be because I'm a regional level umpire," she says with a laugh.

Anyone who has had any involvement with netball here at any level knows what a catfight it can be in the world of bibs.

Primarily, though, the thorny issue is always going to be Hastings and Napier centres seeing eye to eye on issues.

"Too many people were doing different stuff and not talking to each other."

But all that will change. Central Hawke's Bay, Hastings, Napier and Wairoa centres will be "dis-established".

Greenslade is comfortable it's no longer a hot bed of polarised opinions, based on a rash of forums Greenslade and Hastings centre president Heidi Oliver are staging at the centres ending next week. Seven people are "working behind the scenes" to ensure no stone is left unturned for a new beginning.

"I've been part of the Napier Netball Centre for a long time and know what it is like," she reveals.

"Most people in Napier want a change because things haven't been operating progressively. They have been responding brilliantly."

Effectively the process is the byproduct of Netball New Zealand's restructuring exercise, after the 12 playing regions around the country voted early this year to have the boundaries of administrating redefined.

"The voting was pretty split but the majority wanted a change."

What it boils down to is five zones in the country, aligned to the ANZ Championship franchises of Mystics, Magic, Pulse, Tactix and Steel.

The Bay will be in zone 3 , incorporating Wellington, Hutt Valley, Manawatu and Taranaki.

That poses the question of where this province will receive its support from, considering the capital city is where the zone's office will be based.

"The feeling from the forum is that we need to step up to get that support from Wellington.

"It doesn't matter what zone we will be in, we can run it ourselves."

The foundation of optimism is well founded, judging by the capacity crowds turning out at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale, to watch the Haier Central Pulse team compete once each year.

That level of attendance drops dramatically when the Eastern netball team competes at the same venue for a gold coin entry although that won't be an issue now because the region will compete as a Hawke's Bay outfit after Eastern's last foray at the week-long Lion Foundation National Provincial Championship at Tauranga from October 1-6 under coach Jewels Falcon.

To become stronger as a region requires a competitive stage at the elite level and, consequently, trickle down to the secondary, intermediate and junior grades.

"This season we had the top grades of Hastings and Napier playing against each other on Saturday mornings as the Premier One grade and the players are loving it," Greenslade says of the integration.

The Wednesday night Hastings Pak'N Save Premier League already pits the major centres of CHB, Hastings and Napier against each other although the balance of supremacy has shifted to Otane Force, who eclipsed Physique from the yesteryear.

"We want the best of the best - the coaches, the players in the best team so that our representative programme can become stronger.

"We want to have a lot more pride in representing our region."

In no way is Greenslade suggesting the task of amalgamation is going to be a done deal.

If anything, it'll require a sobering approach but with a certain degree of diplomacy to cater to "different people with different needs".

"So it'll be a challenge. It'll be hard but there are enough people who are keen for that change."

The other major benefit from a united netball force is to tap into a lucrative Bay brand for sponsorship.

The code collects money from gaming funds and subscriptions to the tune of $220,000 but Greenslade says the trust funds prefer to contribute to one organisation rather than several centres.

Netball New Zealand are also keeping an eye on what the Bay's doing because it'll roll it out as a pilot programme for other centres to emulate around the country.

"We couldn't have done it without Sport Hawke's Bay's help. They are amazing," she says.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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